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Phil Woods Tribute

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L-R: Ray Beckenstein, Billy Kerr, Wally Kane, Phil Woods, Ken Hitchcock

The first time I met Phil was during a summer concert series, that Clem DeRosa ran for about twenty-five years, in Huntington Long Island. Clem ran a great big band and Phil was the guest soloist for the concert. Phil brought a bunch of charts, which we rehearsed in the afternoon.

One tune, a ballad, had a double time section which had a few complicated rhythms. Well, I blew one of them (Full Disclosure - I’m playing lead alto), and before we moved onto the next tune I sat there trying to figure out what was going on. Phil turned to me and said, “You alright Babe?,” to which I replied, “I think this rhythm is written incorrectly.” “There’s nothing wrong with the way it’s written, try it again,” said Phil. We did and I got it right. Waiting just a few seconds, Phil said, “Don’t feel bad Babe, high school kids all over the country have been playing that right for years.” I can still hear the roar that went up in the band after that one. Phil was the best in every way, even when he put your lights out.