Here is a swingin’ alto saxophone solo by the great alto sax player Phil Woods. Someone posted this recording on Facebook earlier this month and I was blown away when I heard it as I had never heard this Phil Woods recording before.
I have been playing a Drake Phil Woods model alto saxophone mouthpiece for the last few weeks that is advertised as an exact copy of Phil Woods vintage NY Meyer. The Drake Phil Woods mouthpiece plays great and I thought it would be cool to work on a new Phil Woods solo as I was playing the Drake mouthpiece in preparation for a review.
Sadly, Phil Woods passed away on September 29th, 2015. He had a huge impact on me as a young high school student. I used to go to the local library to check out jazz albums and I remember hearing Phil’s recording of Musique Du Bois, Warm Woods and Live from the Showboat. Those albums and Phil’s playing on them just spoke to me as a young high school student. He would play these killer lines coupled with a depth of expression and feeling that I had not heard before in jazz players. Those elements coupled with the most beautiful and gorgeous alto saxophone tone I had ever heard and I was addicted.
I remember getting a book of Phil Woods transcriptions at the local music store (I believe they were by Trent Kynaston) and practicing those solos over and over again as I tried to copy the tone, articulation, bends, growls and everything else I could to sound just a bit more like Phil Woods.
I miss Phil Woods and am so grateful for his life and musical legacy he has left behind. Thank you Mr. Woods for another great alto sax solo for me to dig into. If you have any thoughts on this solo or Phil Woods please feel free to share them in the comment section below. Steve
Phil Woods Alto Sax Solo-Stolen Moments (starts at 1:11)
Phil Woods Solo on Stolen Moments-Eb PDF
If you love these type of solo lines, be sure to check out my PDF books Mastering the Dominant Bebop Scale and Mastering the Dominant Bebop Scale-Book 2, which both include a ton of jazz vocabulary that I have written out in all 12 keys. These lines are the foundation to building a great jazz vocabulary!!
Mastering the Dominant Bebop Scale
Allen Lowe says
this has got to be pre-1966? I love it, and much prefer the early Woods. In later years his playing just got so slick and bebop-machine-like it put me off. Who is on piano?
Allen Lowe says
well there goes that theory – 1994. As Emily Latella would say “never mind.”
Wow! 1994 really? I was assuming it was in the 60’s also……….
Robert Payne says
I’ve seen Phil Woods many times, the last being at Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA. He was playing with Ray Brown as Brown had hired Woods to play with his group that night and he was joking at how much Phil Woods charged. Woods was playing on his Yamaha that night and he did sound a bit different. But he was already having health problems and that may have been part of it. Don’t get me wrong here, he sounded great as always! And that was why I always went to see him when he came to town, you knew you were going to hear some fantastic straight ahead jazz.
The first time I heard him was at a friend’s house. He played an album of Phil Woods with Michelle Legrande and I was just blown away. That would have been about 1980 and I’ve been listening to Phil Woods ever since.
I noticed how he leads up to the tonic minor by implying A harmonic minor with the use of a flat nine and flat six on the E7 chord that leads to A minor. He seems to usually do it in the last two beats of the E7 chord. I find it interesting because that’s what I was taught to do. All in all it’s a pretty inside solo and I notice also his extensive use of the six. It’s a great solo and interesting to compare it to Oliver Nelson’s solo on the same tune. Thanks for posting this, great job on the transcribing!
Allen Lowe says
unless it’s a different version; I found it listed on Discogs.
It’s from the album “Alive and Well in Paris” 1968
Allen Lowe says
ah, thank goodness. Thought I was losing my mind.
Hahaha! Me too! I had to do a quick search for it and find out the truth. Now I can sleep tonight………
Larry Weintraub says
Great stuff. I saw Phil and his Quartet play at a high school in 1978 in Colorado Springs when I was stationed in an Army Band there. He played acoustically. He opened w/”My Old Flame.” Really beautiful. Almost made me want to play alto instead of tenor.
Geez, I have this album and it has been so long since I listened to it that I had forgotten about it and didn’t remember what a great solo this is. Phil has always been one of my favorite players. I was turned on to him probably around the same time as you. A teacher made me a mix tape that included “A Summer Knows” and I listened to it over and over. I also have that Trent Kynaston transcription book, which I guess is long out of print.
Brandon Walker says
Fantastic track and solo. Love how Phil puts the foot on the gas @ 2:58. I’m ready to start the day now. Thank you Steve.
Michael Holt says
Great work Steve beautiful.
Art Manchester says
Thanks for posting this transcription. Phil Woods was long a great influence on me. This recording is from one of my favorite groups of his “The European Rhythm Machine”. I had 3 recordings of this band; “Live At Montreux”, “Live At the Berlin Jazz Festival”, and the rare “Electric Chromatic Banana”. These recordings are all great. Phil was a true master of the alto saxophone – “beyond category” as Duke Ellington might say. Thank you for posting again.