I Remember April
Remembering Phil Woods (1931-2015)
Phil Woods performs in France at the 2005 Marciac Jazz Festival with Ben Aronov, piano; Reginald Johnson, bass; Doug Sides, drums; and the Conservatoire National Regional Orchestra.
Philip Wells Woods was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on November 2, 1931 and is a jazz bebop alto saxophonist, clarinetist, bandleader and composer. He studied music with Lennie Tristano, who influenced him greatly, at the Manhattan School of Music and at The Juilliard School. His friend, Joe Lopes, coached him on clarinet as there was no saxophone major at Juilliard at the time. Although he did not copy Charlie “Bird” Parker, bop’s greatest saxophonist, he was known as the New Bird, a label which was also attached to other alto players such as Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderley at one time or another in their careers.
In 1979, Woods made the recording, More Live, at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. Perhaps his best known recorded work as a sideman is a pop piece, his alto sax solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” He also played the alto sax solo on Steely Dan’s “Doctor Wu,” from their critically acclaimed 1975 album Katy Lied, as well as Paul Simon’s 1975 hit, Have a Good Time.
Phil Woods married Chan Parker, the widow of Charlie Parker, and was stepfather to Chan’s daughter, Kim.
Woods, along with Rick Chamberlain and Ed Joubert founded the organization Celebration of the Arts (COTA) in 1978 late one night in the bar at the Deerhead Inn in Delaware Water Gap. The organization would eventually become the Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts. Their initial goal was to help foster an appreciation of jazz and its relationship to other artistic disciplines. Each year, the organization hosts the Celebration of the Arts Festival in the town of Delaware Water Gap in September.
*In 2007, Phil received a “Jazz Master” award from the National Endowment of the Arts.