Phil Woods 83.Many of you may not know who Phil Woods is but you have no doubt heard him, if only on a single, high-profile song played much on AM radio back in 1977. That song is “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel. that song is off Joel’s extraordinary album, The Stranger (1977). And while the song itself is a great ballad, it is underscored by the equally beautiful saxophone heard throughout the song including the moving alto sax solo heard around the three minute mark.

Over the course of an illustrious career, Phil Woods has released more than 35 albums. His sax was sexy, sad, mood-altering, and guaranteed to pull tears from you as you listened to what can only be described as magic coming from an inanimate object. His ability to project his soul into the saxophone is part of what drew me to the instrument as one that can wash over me and put me into a trance. One listen to not only Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”, but also his brilliant “Blue Ballad” from his 1988 Phil Woods And Space Jazz Trio, attests to that.

The loss of Phil Woods is an enormous one. Few can create a feeling like Phil Woods could with his saxophone. And now, with him gone, it is a feeling of a void that permeates this sad day.

Let me suggest a play of “Just the Way You Are” (above) – paying extra attention to the Phil Woods sax parts – to not only mourn the passing of this great musician, but to also celebrate the fact that genius does exist among us from time to time.

Phil Woods.

Phil Woods

By MARowe