Phil Woods was born Nov. 2, 1931, in Springfield, Mass. After his graduation from high school at age 16, he spent four years in New York attending the Julliard School of Music. According to Woods, "My first influences were Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges, and Charlie Parker, in that order."
In the '50s Woods performed with his own bands, some co-directed by altoist Gene Quill, and with Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie, whose historic State Department tour of the Middle East in 1959 featured Woods on lead alto sax.
Woods lived in Europe during the '60s; there he formed the European Rhythm Machine, a group that played all over the world until Woods' return to the U.S. in 1973. He eventually settled in New York and formed one of the most important jazz quintets of the '80s and '90s, the Phil Woods Quintet.
In addition to his four Grammys, Woods and his quintet have won numerous international honors; Woods' personal triumphs include his being named Downbeat magazine's Readers' and Critics' Poll's #1 alto saxophonist from 1975-1992, and his receipt of Jazz Times' award as #1 alto saxophonist for 1990-93.
According to music critics, Phil Woods "has influenced more up-and-coming players than Adderly and Hodges. He is the greatest living exponent of his instrument."