Life in E Flat – The Autobiography of Phil Woods

Cymbal Press is proud to announce the publication of our first book, “Life in E Flat – The Autobiography of Phil Woods.” This book by the legendary saxophonist, composer, and band leader is available now in softcover, hardcover, and Kindle formats.

WINNER! 2021 Book of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association!

Phil Woods (1931-2015) was an American original. One of the greatest saxophonists of all time, he was the first call for Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Oliver Nelson. His iconic improvisation on Billy Joel’s record is quite likely the most played instrumental solo in the world. His popularity soared while an expat in Europe during the cultural revolution of the late sixties and early seventies. Upon his return to the States, Woods formed a band that would perform together for four decades. Grammy Awards, dozens of DownBeat Readers Poll victories, and designation as a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master would follow. Life in E Flat is the unvarnished self-portrait of an artist who loved and lived a life of bebop.

“I’ve never played with a greater musician than Phil Woods. He personified what it means to be a complete musician; all aspects of his musicality were developed to the extent where each individual talent could have stood alone as a basis of a distinguished career. Phil was a composer and arranger – not just as a means to frame his own playing but as a maker of works – fully realized and extended ones, in settings ranging from small ensemble to big band, to chamber and choral music. His acuity as an instrumentalist was astonishing – the virtuosity, beauty, and consistency of this grandmaster never failed to awe and thrill me, all the way to the very end. As an improviser, jazz soloist and expressive artist, he was beyond category. Phil nailed the number one goal of musical artistry – to have an individual voice, recognizable in one gorgeous and expressive note…

…You, the reader, will become conversant during the course of your time in the pages of this book with a man possessed of an abundance of gifts along with the determination to put the hard work in to realize every facet of them, and the great good fortune to grow up  blessed by the mentorship of the most distinguished exponents of a golden age of Black American Music. Phil Woods lived all the tropes of the 20th century American artist: defiant modernist, reverent traditionalist, mid-century family man, countercultural nonconformist, homebody, expatriate and road rat; young Turk and grand master. His story tracks the changes of “this old world” through over three quarters of a century of music and life, informing us of what has been gained and lost, reminding us of what happened and what still needs to be done.” – Brian Lynch, Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator

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