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Phil Woods
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Musician
    (November 2, 1931-September 29, 2015)
    Born in Springfield, Massachusetts
    Alto saxophonist
    Recorded the albums 'Woodlore' (1955), 'Pairing Off' (1956), 'The Young Bloods' (with Donald Byrd, 1956), 'Rights of Swing' (1961), 'Greek Cooking' (1967), 'Musique du Bois' (1974), 'Images' (1975), 'Live from the Show Boat' (1977), 'Live from New York' (1982), 'More Live' (1982), 'At the Vanguard' (1983), 'Dizzy Gillespie Meets the Phil Woods Quintet' (1986), 'Here's to My Lady' (1989), 'Phil's Mood' (1990), 'Celebration!' (1997), 'Pass the Bebop' (2006) and 'The Man with the Hat' (2011)
    Won four Grammy Awards: one for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Performance (1975), three for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance (1977,1982-83)
    When he inherited a sax from his late uncle at age 12, he initially wanted to melt it down and use the metal to cast toy soldiers.
    He once asked Dizzy Gillespie, 'How am I gonna be a jazz musician? I'm a white guy.'
    He married and divorced Charlie Parker's widow, Chan.
    Pop music fans are more likely to know him for playing the sax solo on Billy Joel's 'Just the Way You Are' than any of his own records.
    He was a popular sideman because he could read sheet music.
    Joel said that his sax solo on 'Just the Way You Are' 'took it to a whole other stratosphere. All of sudden, now it wasn't just a lounge ballad. It was potentially a classic.'
    He was named both a NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Living Jazz Legend (2007).
    He performed his last concert less than a month before his death, despite needing an oxygen tank on stage.

Credit: C. Fishel


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