- Artist: Phil Woods
- Album: The Stranger (Billy Joel – 1977)
- Track: Just the Way You Are
- Note: This is the longer version, the ‘album’ version fades out much sooner, shortening the sax solo
- Instrument: Alto Sax
Phil Woods passed away this week, so I thought it would be fitting to take a break from the Maceo transcriptions and share one of his most iconic solos.
While he was a jazz legend, I chose this pop recording since it is so famous. When was the last time you heard a saxophone solo in song on the top 10 chart for pop/rock? The 70s were a different time…
This solo deserves the praise that it gets. Phil didn’t dumb down his playing for a pop audience, or resort to gimmicks. He just played a simple, beautiful solo that has some great jazz lines in it, and subtle use of dissonance, tension, and harmony.
I had the pleasure of seeing Phil Woods live only once. It was around 1990, shortly after his phenomenal appearance on David Sanborn’s amazing “Night Music” show. I saw him at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. What a player.
RIP Phil – you’ll be missed!