Jazz saxophonist Phil Woods dies at age 83

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Phil Woods, a leading alto saxophonist in mainstream jazz for more than 60 years whose piercing solos could also be heard on hit records by Billy Joel and Paul Simon, has died. He was 83.

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Woods died Tuesday in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, said Philip Bensing, owner of the Bensing-Thomas Funeral Home.

Woods gave his last concert on Sept. 4 in Pittsburgh, using oxygen to complete a performance of the classic album “Charlie Parker With Strings” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. That night he announced he had emphysema and was retiring.

Mr. Woods was voted the top alto sax player nearly 30 times in Downbeat magazine’s annual readers’ poll starting in 1975. He was also a prolific composer and arranger and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2007.

In a statement Tuesday, Jones said: “There was a very specific reason Phil played on nearly every album I’ve made since 1956.. . . He not only was the best jazz alto sax player there was, he was a truly beautiful person.”


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