Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Woods studied music with Lennie Tristano, at the Manhattan School of Music, and at The Juilliard School; his principal instrument at the time was clarinet. Once graduated he quickly acquired a reputation as the pre-eminent bop saxophonist of the day; although he did not copy Charlie "Bird" Parker, bop's greatest saxophonist, he was known as the New Bird.
Since 1955 he has worked mainly with groups he has led, but he has also worked for or with Charlie Barnet, Jimmy Raney , George Wallington, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Billy Joel, and Michel Legrand.
After moving to France in 1968, he led The European Rhythm Machine, a group which tended toward avant-garde jazz. He returned to the United States in 1972, and after an unsuccessful attempt to establish an electronic group he formed a quintet which is still performing, with some changes of personnel, in 2004.
He has also recorded extensively, both as a leader and sideman. Perhaps his best known recorded work as a sideman is a pop piece, his alto solo on Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are."
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