TIR 85: Keyboardist Tells How Roy Ayers & Frankie Beverly Became Dyed-in-the-Woo Fans


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 85 (2 Parts): One of the leading funk, soul and jazz session keyboardists of the 1970s and 1980s, Philip Woo, who was also a band member of Roy Ayers’ Ubiquity and Frankie Beverly and Maze. A child prodigy hailing from Seattle, by the time he reached high school Woo was a local funk band fixture, including being in a group that also featured a teenage Kenny G. That was until Ayers came to town and took him away to New York at age 19 to join the jazz-funk legend’s touring and studio band. He became immersed a rich Manhattan music scene in which funk, soul and jazz stars were playing or recording somewhere locally every day of the week.

A couple of years later, Woo struck out on his own and wound up doing extensive session and performance work with Ashford & Simpson, Candi Staton, Patti Labelle, Graham Central Station’s Patryce “Choc’Let” Banks and later on Grover Washington Jr., George Howard, Jeffrey Osborne, Gladys Knight, Deborah Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston and the Four Tops, among many others. In 1980 he joined Maze and is featured on that group’s Live in New Orleans, We Are One and Back to Basics albums. In the late 1990s, Woo relocated to Tokyo where he has resided ever since, continuing to work constantly in a variety of musical capacities that includes joining groups like Tower of Power when they tour Asia and playing local club gigs weekly with a crack band covering the gamut of well-known and obscure soul, funk and jazz songs.

Here, Woo reflects on his 45 years in the business and shares lots of unforgettable memories and accomplishments that include name dropping the several dozen legends and stellar musicians he has had the thrill of crossing paths with along his amazing journey. Stick around until near the end when he breaks out a bunch of terrific photos. Not sure this is what he had in mind when he coined the phrase, but as another famous keyboardist used to say, talking about Parliament-Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell here, we all need Woo — and this interview is sure to have you saying Woo-hoo!



Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.