Diggin Phil Woods,
I wanted to reflect on hearing and having the privilege to be in the presence of Phil Woods. At the age of 83, Phil Woods announced last week in a concert in PA, that he was retiring from playing the Saxophone.
At the young age of 16, my mother took me to a concert in Reading, PA to see Phil and his band performing at the Rajah Theater now known as the Sovereign Performing Arts Center. I have such fond memories of going there throughout my childhood with my mother and her friends to see off Broadway shows and concerts.
Seeing Phil Woods that day changed my life to how I am today. As I watched Phil I sat there in awe of his fabulous sound and flawless technique. I knew this is how I wanted to lead my life of playing the Saxophone.
I have had the pleasure of meeting him at the Blue Note in NYC when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. He did not give the appearance of being a happy go lucky man but a man that was frustrated with how the music business treated him and his career through the years. Even though he was bitter, I thanked him for his creativity and how his sound was something that I could always recognize as the same as other legends such as Parker, Coltrane, Rollins…etc.
As it is an honor to get old it is also a fact that if you do not take care of yourself you will have to give up your craft. I have known for years that he walked around with an oxygen tank and he would just take it off just to play. I wonder if he stopped smoking early in his life and was mindful I his health ….would he have had to stop playing at 83?