Dr. Damani Philips is a native of Pontiac, MI, where he began playing at the age of 10. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz/African-American Studies at The University of Iowa, where he directs jazz combos and teaches courses in African-American music, jazz history, improvisation, among others. He has earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from DePaul University and The University of Kentucky in classical saxophone; and a second Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Wayne State University. In 2009, Phillips completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder; becoming one of the first African-Americans in the country to earn this degree.
An active performer, pedagogue and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England and Japan. He has performed with artists/groups such as Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Belgrave, Pat Bianchi, Terrell Stafford, Maceo Parker, Ira Sullivan, The Temptations, Red Holloway, Greg Gisbert, the Lexington (KY) Philharmonic, the Pontiac Oakland Symphony, the touring Dave Matthews cover band “Crush”, and many others.
As a recording artist, Phillips released his debut CD "Yaktown Nights" in 2004, and his sophomore release “The String Theory” in November of 2010—which features his original compositions and arrangements that combine a traditional jazz rhythm section with a string quartet. His latest quartet recording project “The Reckoning” (featuring New York standouts Pat Bianchi on Hammond Organ, Greg Gisbert on trumpet and Lewis Nash on drums) was released in December of 2012.
A musician as diverse as his background, Phillips is an artist of many dimensions. Steeped in the tradition of bop, his music combines the soulfulness of Cannonball Adderley with the harmonic savvy of Kenny Garrett. His aspiration as a player and composer is simply to strike a soulful balance between jazz tradition and contemporary innovation; to make music that speaks to ALL people, regardless of their walk of life. Phillips plays with a fire that is infectious and unwavering. Take a listen and see for yourself!