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Article Three: Taken From Fanfare Magazine
An article from the Febuary 1946 edition of Fanfare Magazine discusses Woolf Philips.
Source: Jazz Professional
Taken from Fanfare magazine of February, 1946
Having been asked by " Fanfare " to contribute a regular feature about the trombone and trombonists in general, and also to preface it by a short resume of my experiences as a trombonist and arranger in our profession to date, I can only say that it was quite a change to be referred to as Woolf Phillips and not, as so often is the case, as " Sid Phillips' Young Brother!" Not that I mind being referred to as "S.P.Y.B." ... far from it! It is impossible to say how much I owe to Sid for the amount of painstaking tuition and guidance that he has shown me during my early years in the musical profession.
In 1934, whilst working as a copyist at Campbell & Connelly, the music publishers, I developed a yen for the trombone, and from Sid Kreeger, the pianist, borrowed a battered old horn which he had purchased in Switzerland, and commenced studying, to the dismay of my family and the anger of the people who lived next door. They (the people next door) moved out eventually, but not before sending a complaint to the local Watch Committee about 'cannibal' noises being emitted at all times of the day from the house next door. My family were not so fortunate . . . they had to bear it all in philosophical silence.
Came a period of study with that excellent instrumentalist Tony Thorpe, who was at that time one of the three brilliant trombone executants with the immortal Ambrose Orchestra of that period, the other two being Lew Davis and my good friend and colleague, Ted Heath. Tony was an excellent teacher, and frequently sent me home without a lesson if I hadn't practiced up the previous week's material, although not before making me stay to dinner.
Some time in 1935, Ray Terry, with whom I had been working at Campbell & Connelly's, suggested that I join Teddy Joyce's Juvenile Band, which was then in the process of being formed, which I did. The youngster occupying the next trombone chair to me, and with whom I indulged in many mad antics in those days, was Lad Busby, now one of England's leading trombonists. Many excellent musicians received a good grounding in this Juvenile band, including Aubrey Franks and Dougie Robinson.
These last few years, however, I have been much more occupied as an arranger than as a trombonist, being fortunate enough to contribute arrangements to the libraries of bands such as the Squadronaires, the Skyrockets, Ted Heath, Harry Roy, Ambrose, Lew Stone and others. Being in the army has made it difficult to indulge in much playing, but I have managed (between periods abroad) to perform with the Ken Johnson band, Ambrose, Lew Stone, Ted Heath, the Skyrockets, the Squads and a few others. I have also been very fortunate to contribute many arrangements to that excellent radio feature Top Ten and have also scored material for films and shows.
I stayed with the Juvenile Band for about eight months, and then spent a period studying harmony and theory. In 1936 I joined the Joe Loss band at the famous Astoria Ballroom, spending a very happy period with him. I was quite busy by now, doing arrangements, and eventually left the band to concentrate entirely upon arranging. Early in 1937 I went down to Bournemouth and played for a short season with Sim Grossman's Band at the Pavilion, leaving there to join Jack Hylton, with whom I remained (broken by a period with Ambrose) until I joined the.R.A.M.C.
Well, there you have it ... the bizarre story of my life. I am writing this article at present in an Army Transit Camp in Rotterdam, and, in the vernacular of the soldier, keep repeating monotonously "Roll on Group 27," (i.e., demobilisation).
Photo: Woolfie with Alan Dean, USA, 2002