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SF Bay Area Jazz Writer Phil Elwood Dies At 79

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Jazz and blues critic Phil Elwood dies at 79
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Phil Elwood, a revered blues and jazz critic who introduced many Californians to the blues in the early days of FM radio and wrote about musicians including Charlie Byrd and Duke Ellington, has died. He was 79.

Elwood died from heart failure Tuesday, said his daughter, Lis Scott of Sierra City. Elwood retired in 2002 after a nearly four-decade career at the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Phil was the quintessential jazz critic," said performer Jon Hendricks, who met Elwood at clubs and festivals. “Most jazz critics love the music, but Phil knew the music as well as loved it."

Elwood also wrote about rock, blues and comedy for the Examiner, where he began his career in 1965. He continued his career at the Chronicle when the papers merged in 2000.

Elwood's weekly radio program, “Jazz Archive," began in 1952, when few owned FM radios. His show continued on Berkeley's KPFA until 1996.

“Talk about old school," musician Huey Lewis said. “He was a music lover. Imagine that. He actually loved the music. They don't make 'em like that anymore."

Elwood was born March 19, 1926, and raised in Berkeley. He first saw Count Basie in 1939 from a ballroom balcony in Oakland, which sparked his lifelong interest in jazz.

“It (music) was everything to him," Scott said. “He would go to all the jazz clubs. He just loved the music."

Elwood also taught American history to high school and college students.

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