"My Man Benny" featuring Phil Woods

Phil Woods (1931-2015) was one of the preeminant jazz alto saxophone players to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Parker and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. He mastered the language of Parker, mirroring the ornaments and enclosures characteristic of bebop, and mixed it with the blusey, bold sound of Adderley, and the scoops and vibrato of Johnny Hodges. After growing up in Massachusetts, Woods moved to New York to attend school at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. Having graduated, he played throughout the New York area with his own group, Dizzy Gillespie, and Quincy Jones, before moving to France in 1968. Following his return to the U.S.A. in 1974, he won a number of Grammy awards, wrote compositions including a sonata, and saxophone quartets for classical saxophone performers, and recorded extensively. On pop records, he can be heard with Steely Dan, Billy Joel, and Paul Simon.

This video features Phil Woods with the Barcelona Jazz Orchestra (Barcelona, Spain), in 2010. Woods composed "My Man Benny" to honor his friend, the jazz saxophonist Benny Carter. They originally recorded the tune together in 1990, before Carter's passing. By the time of this recording, Woods was suffering symptoms of emphysema, a consequence of smoking. While he doesn't play with the intensity he had in his youth, I hope you enjoy his skilled and melodic playing. As you watch, notice how his upper body stays relaxed no matter the number of notes he plays. The close-up shots provide us the opportunity to appreciate the efficiency of his finger technique.

To learn more about Phil Woods and his music (including his dozens of recordings), you can visit his website www.philwoods.com