Skip to content

Recent News


RIP Phil Woods

“We are diminished by your loss.
But we are forever augmented by your work.
You were the best.”

Billy Joel

Phil Woods, an alto saxophonist revered in jazz circles for his bright, clean sound and his sterling technique – and widely heard on songs by Billy Joel, Paul Simon and others – died on Tuesday in East Stroudsburg, Pa. He was 83.

Mr. Woods was one of the leading alto saxophonists in the generation that followed Charlie Parker, who had set an imposing new bar for the instrument while defining the terms of bebop. Rigorous, complex and brisk, bebop’s stylistic language would be a constant for Mr. Woods throughout his prolific career, as both a leader and a sideman.

On the recommendation of the producer Phil Ramone, an old classmate at the Juilliard School, Mr. Woods was featured on Mr. Simon’s 1975 album, “Still Crazy After All These Years,” playing a quicksilver bebop cadenza on the song “Have a Good Time.” That same year he played a solo on the Steely Dan tune “Doctor Wu.” And in 1977 Mr. Woods was prominently featured on Mr. Joel’s ballad “Just the Way You Are,” which became a Top 10 hit and won two Grammy Awards.

Mr. Woods, who lived in Delaware Water Gap, Pa., is survived by his wife, Jill Goodwin; a son, Garth; three stepdaughters, Kim Parker and Allisen and Tracy Trotter; and a grandson.

Read more at The New York Times.

Photo by Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times