Water Gap's Phil Woods a national Living Legacy

Courtesy Pocono Rcord - June 12, 2011

Saxophonist Phil Woods will be honored with the BNY Mellon Jazz 2011 Living Legacy Award in a special ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 14.

The BNY Mellon Jazz 2011 Living Legacy Award is a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and is sponsored by BNY Mellon, a global financial services company. The award honors living jazz masters from the Mid-Atlantic region who have achieved distinction in jazz performance and education. The celebration will include a reception, the award ceremony and a performance by the 2010 Legacy award recipient, Roy Haynes, in the Terrace Theatre.

Born in 1931 in Springfield, Mass., Woods is considered a master jazz alto saxophonist whose lineage is clearly rooted in the tone and phrasing of the great Charlie Parker, Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges. After graduating from high school at age 16, Woods moved to New York City and enrolled in the Juilliard School, where he remained through 1952, majoring in clarinet performance. In the 1950s, he led his own groups and toured the Near East and South America with one of his musical idols, Dizzy Gillespie. Woods went on to perform in Buddy Rich's quintet and toured Europe with Quincy Jones (1959-60) and Russia with Benny Goodman (1962). He also played and recorded with Clark Terry, Bill Evans, Oliver Nelson, Charlie Barnet and Thelonious Monk.

In 1972, Woods returned to Pennsylvania and formed a jazz group with Mike Melillo, Steve Gilmore and Bill Goodwin. With this ensemble, he became recognized as the finest alto saxophonist in mainstream jazz, confirmed by performances with Michel Legrand and on Billy Joel's hit recording "Just the Way You Are."

He has been the recipient of four Grammy Awards and the NEA Jazz Master Award. Woods remains active internationally as a band leader, composer-arranger, soloist and recent steward to younger players such as the emerging saxophonist Grace Kelly. Woods lives with his wife, Jill, in Delaware Water Gap.

For information, visit www.midatlanticarts.org/funding/artists_programs/living_legacy/index.html.