Woody Witt, Saxophonist
Saxophonist, composer, jazz educator and arts manager, Woody Witt is establishing a distinctive mark in the jazz world today. With fresh ideas and an original approach to improvisation and composition, Witt has gained the respect of his peers and performs with some of the top names in the Jazz industry.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Witt earned a Bachelor in Music at the University of Houston, a Master in Music from the prestigious University of North Texas (Jazz Studies), and in 2000, Witt earned a Doctorate in Musical Arts at the University Of Houston Moores School Of Music. Currently, Witt is an Affiliate Artist at the University of Houston and teaches full-time at Houston Community College. A perfect combination of building on the past and searching for the future, Woody’s style can be recognized instantly – it is that weaving of the old with the new that catches the listener’s ear, yielding his distinctive sound and is why he is sought after by so many of the top jazz artists of today: Tim Hagans, Louis Hayes, Adam Nussbaum, James Moody, Conrad Herwig, David Liebman, Billy Hart, Jim Rotondi, Nancy King, Mark Levine, Tim Armacost and others. To quote Grammy Award Winning trumpeter and composer, Randy Brecker, “Woody Witt continues the tradition of great ‘Texas Tenors’ with a big fat sound, fresh ideas and a decidedly modern and original approach to improvisation and composition.”
Woody’s first self titled CD, released in 2002, launched him into the recording industry with a sense of new found fervor, which was followed by three acclaimed releases on Apria Records, Square Peg Round Hole in 2005, Live at Cezanne’s in 2007 and Willows in 2008. His recordings and live performances have well documented his tenor voice distinguished by a fat tone, an innovative approach to improvised melodies and a distinct harmonic language. Noted writer Frank Rubolino of Cadence writes, “There is nothing academic about his approach. It is all soul and emotion and his solos ring out with authority.”
His musical journey has offered him stints with the touring Broadway production of 42nd Street as well as Tommy Tune. He has premiered new works that break down barriers between the musical genres of classical and jazz as a featured soloist on “Up South” for jazz ensemble and orchestra and “Three Musicians,” a work for soprano saxophone, guitar and bass, both by noted composer, Dr. Robert Nelson. Witt is a Yamaha Performing Artist (for over 15 years), a 2010 recipient of a Chamber Music America French American Cultural Exchange grant which helped underwrite a 10 day tour of France in March and will help with a US tour this fall with Franck Amsallem. Witt will be included in the upcoming book ,”The New Face of Jazz,” by Cicily Janus. It will be released this July – http://newfaceofjazz.com. Witt is equally gifted with the ability to transfer his immense knowledge to others and has done many masterclasses and guest artist appearances over the past few years including: University of North Texas (2 times), Sam Houston State University, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, including a series of master classes made possible by a grant from the Thelonious Monk Institute for the past 3 years, University of Texas Arlington, Texas Weslayan University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas State University, Amarillo College (2 times), University of Alaska Fairbanks, McPhail School of Music (Minneapolis) and others. Witt’s performances are always exciting and full of rich musical experiences, he has performed at: in NYC (Small’s, Enzo’s and the Jazz Improv Convention), in Chicago (Pop’s for Champagne, Andy’s and several area high schools, Spring 2009), Minneapolis (the Dakota and the Artist’s Quarter), New Orleans (Snug Harbor), Alaska, Japan and 2 tours of France (2007 and 2010).
Woody served as the manager/artistic director of one of the city’s only jazz clubs, C