- Phil Elwood

Philip Elwood - Source SF Trad Jazz

Philip 'Phil' Elwood was born on March 19, 1926 in Berkeley, where his father was a professor of agriculture at the University of California.

As a teenager, Phil was introduced to jazz by photographer Dorothea Lange, prompting a lifelong love of the genre and inspiring him to build a large jazz record collection.

Elwood's love of jazz led to a career in radio and print journalism. From 1952-1996, he hosted a weekly series, Jazz Archives, on Berkeley's KPFA, making him one of the first jazz broadcasters in FM radio.

His work in radio celebrated the resurgence of interest in early jazz and documented what became known as the 'San Francisco Style.' Phil Elwood recorded interviews with Lu Watters, Turk Murphy, Bob Helm and other key musicians in the Great Revival.

In 1965 while working at KPFA, Elwood joined the San Francisco Examiner as an entertainment critic, where he covered jazz, rock, blues, comedy, and cabaret shows in the Bay Area. After 2000, he continued his newspaper career at the San Francisco Chronicle. Following retirement in 2002, Phil Elwood wrote for the website JazzWest.com.

Turk Murphy and Phil Elwood
Turk Murphy and Phil Elwood

Phil was a kind of patriarch of Bay Area jazz radio… It was forever a problem to attract media folk and reviewers to older jazz and judge it fairly. Phil was the single exception, a reviewer who gave equal respect to Turk Murphy and Miles Davis.

Richard Hadlock The Frisco Cricket, Winter 2006

Educated at UC/Berkeley and at Stanford University, Elwood shared his love of jazz with students at Albany High School, Laney College, and UCB Extension. Active in the jazz community, he served as a director of the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation and on the Advisory Board for the first Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958.

A lifelong Berkeley resident, Phil Elwood passed away from heart failure on January 10, 2006.

Phil Elwood, at commemoration of his 35 years as DJ at radio station KPFA. Source KPFA.
Phil Elwood and Dottie Lawless at a commemoration of his 35 years on KPFA. Source KPFA.