Philip Wells Woods (born November 2, 1931) is an American jazz alto saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.
Woods was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, and 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. Once graduated, he quickly acquired a reputation as the pre-eminent bop saxophonist of the day; 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.
Since 1955 Woods has worked mainly with groups he has led, but he has also worked for or with Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Raney, George Wallington, Gene Quill, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Sonny Rollins, Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Stephane Grappelli, Louis Bellson, Steely Dan,and Michel Legrand.
After moving to France in 1968, Woods led The European Rhythm Machine, a group which tended toward avant-garde jazz. He returned to the United States in 1972 and, after an unsuccessful attempt to establish an electronic group, he formed a quintet which was still performing, with some changes of personnel, in 2004. As his theme, Woods uses a piece titled "How's Your Mama?".
Woods has also recorded extensively, both as a leader and sideman. 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.
Woods' recordings have been nominated for seven Grammy awards and have won four of them.
Phil Woods married Chan Parker, the widow of Charlie Parker, and was step-father to Parker's daughter, Kim, and his son, Baird.
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.
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