Mon. September 25th, 2017I've written my first book, which will be released on September 28th!
I am pleased to announce the publication of my very first book "What Is This Thing Called Soul: Conversations on Black Culture and Jazz Education". The book addresses the question of how does academic jazz education impact the Black cultural value of soulfulness and esthetic standards in contemporary jazz music? Through candid conversations with nine of the country's most highly respected jazz practitioners and teachers, What Is This Thing Called Soul explores the potential consequences of forcing the Black musical style of jazz into an academic pedagogical system that is specifically designed to facilitate the practice and pedagogy of European classical music. This work tests the belief that the cultural, emotional and esthetic elements at the very core of jazz's unique identity, along with the music's overt connection to Black culture, are effectively being "lost in translation" in traversing the divide between academic and non-academic jazz spheres.
This is the first book on the market that attempts to tackle this troubling issue, and is designed to be a catalyst for the nation to begin talk of the validity of this issue, and more importantly, the impact that continuing to ignore it potentially has on the future direction of jazz music.
The book is available online at most major retailers, including Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/What-This-Thing-Called-Soul/dp/1433145707
Stop by the site, take a look, and please help me spread the word!
Sun. July 19th, 2015New Album "Duality" available for Pre-sale!
In an effort to raise seed money for run-out trips to Iowa and Denver, I'm offering the new album for pre-sale on Indie-Gogo. Stop by the campaign site, check out the backstory behind the new album, and consider picking up a copy or two! Pre-sale prices are significantly discounted from the post-release retail price, and even better, you'll get your copy of the album BEFORE the rest of the free world!
Even if you're not interested in making a contribution, please consider sharing the campaign with your circle. I think this album is destined to do great things, and with your help, I am confident that this belief will come to pass!
Sat. May 30th, 2015My New Solo Album "Duality" Released on August 1st!!!
As you may or may not know, I've been hard at work in the studio since December working very hard on my latest album. The new album will be called "Duality", and is a double disc set: 1 Disc (titled "The Jazz Club" of jazz that you'd expect to hear from me (mix of originals and arrangements) and 1 disc (called "The Mixtape") of jazz fuzed with hip hop. That is correct - I did say hip hop! I know of only one prior project that has attempted to do this before - that being the Hidden Beach compilation. However, all the artists playing on that album were smooth jazz musicians, and of course, it comes across as a smooth jazz album. My efforts are centered around mixing hip hop with that straight-ahead, be-bop goodness you've come to know me for. I enlisted the assistance of collaborators from Detroit, Indianapolis, and borrowed the music of some of hip hop's most respected producers. It's a beautifully unique experiment, and I think I just may be on to something here! Here's a little snippet from the liner notes:
"The aforementioned conversations validated a thought that I have firmly held true for years now – jazz music is not doing enough to reach out to new listeners. Apart from those raised on the music, I feel that we can do better in replenishing our diminishing listener base. My most unique characteristics is my incredibly diverse musical upbringing. I was raised on hip hop and R&B, played classical music exclusively in my early musical development and have dedicated myself to jazz music for the last 15 years. It is vital that we both acknowledge and reflect modern day tastes, sensibilities and cultural evolutions in what we jazz artists do and how we do it. The real trick to making it work is to find a viable updated approach that doesn’t compromise the integrity of the musician or substance of the music. "Duality" is my humble attempt to “have my cake and eat it too" - to fuse straight-ahead jazz and hip hop in a way that invites young/inexperienced listeners to give jazz music a fair shake while maintaining my artistic integrity as a musician deeply rooted in jazz tradition. Very few others are daring to attempt such a synergy, as authentically straddling the line between these two worlds is no easy feat! This album is my humble effort to do exactly that – to speak WITH you as a listener instead of speaking AT you or OVER your head just for the sake of it. Modern jazz does that far too often.
My late father would always say to me, “Damani, never forget where you come from or to make music that connects to the people!" As a hard-working and well-studied artist, these conversations regarding what I should or shouldn’t do with MY music were the source of much frustration over the years! But as I grew older and wiser, I realized that his statements conveyed a bitter truth. While it is essential that jazz and its artists have the leeway to stretch their wings freely, I firmly believe that music is not meant to be entirely a self-indulgent art. It is ultimately meant to be shared with people, and music made by musicians, for musicians, with the expressed intent of impressing other musicians is a road that leads to musical extinction. The two albums that comprise Duality are an attempt to present jazz in a way that vibrates with varied musical sensibilities, and I hope that your familiarity with one style will help foster a new connection with the other. The exploration of my own musical duality on this album is by far the most difficult undertaking of my musical career, and I am both proud and honored to be in a position to present it to you. I hope that the pairing of these two worlds offer you a different perspective on the potential possibilities and cultural relevance of jazz music. To my dad I’d say that this is an album that’s made by a MUSICIAN, for the PEOPLE, for the sake of impressing BOTH! Fingers crossed that this music would make him just as proud as I am in presenting it to you."
Keep your eyes peeled for this one! I think this is going to turn out to be something special!
Mon. March 16th, 2015I'm officially endorsed as a Yamaha Performing Artist
It is with pleaseure that i report that I have been selected as the newest addition to Yamaha Musical Instrument's Performing Artist Line-up. This is my first major endorsement, and I couldn't be more pleased to be joining the Yamaha family!
Thu. July 31st, 2014Album Release of Northwest + 1's "Minor Suggestions"
Pleased to report that I'm a part of a new jazz group (Northwest + 1) with a stellar cast of musicians from Washington state, and the group has just released a new album together. "Minor Suggestions" is a collection of original music (save one cover) penned by the members of the group, and is a uniquely versatile body of work spanning numerous styles and flavors. Check the album out at CDBaby or on Itunes!
Kevin Woods - Trumpet
Damani Phillips - Sax
Danny McCollim - piano
Jon Hamar - Bass
Julian MacDonnough - Drums
Wed. February 13th, 2013New Review of "The Reckoning" from the Muse's Muse.com
Very strong review of the new album. Take a look!
Fri. January 18th, 2013KUVO Jazz 89 Denver CD of the Month Write-up
My new album "The Reckoning" has been selected as KUVO's CD of the month for January! Check out this nice write-up from station program director Arturo Gomez. Selection is a serious honor, and comes with a front page feature on the station website. While you're there, take a second to stream their live broadcast. A very hip station that everyone should be aware of! Keeping some pretty good company in the KUVO CD of the month selection club!
Wed. January 16th, 2013Interview with Pontiac News' Quincy Stewart
A very candid and interesting interview with one of Pontiac's finest jazz musicians and political activist Quincy Stewart. A rare look at the path I've taken as a musician, educator and recording artist.
Click on the link above, then select "Past issues 2013"
Mon. December 31st, 2012The inagural review of my new album "The Reckoning" from All About Jazz
The first review of the new album, written by Victor Verney of All About Jazz.
Mon. August 29th, 2011"The String Theory" Review by the Des Moines Music Coalition
Recent expanded review of my latest album by the Des Moines Music Coalition's Brandon Findlay.
Thu. March 10th, 2011Review of "The String Theory" from AllAboutJazz.com
AAJ's Victor Verney does and extended analysis of the album, and interweaves a historical discussion of the controversial nature of the use of strings in a jazz context. An interesting write-up.
Thu. March 3rd, 2011Inagural review of "The String Theory" at Muse's Muse
Here is the first album review to come in on the new album - and a strong one at that! Thanks to the people over at musesmuse.com for considering it for review!
Review from allaboutjazz.com forthcoming!
Sat. January 29th, 2011Radio Debut of the new album "The String Theory"
My new CD "The String Theory" will receive its radio debut on KUVO 89.3 FM in Denver, Colorado on Monday January 31st on the Mid-Afternoon Jazz at the Oasis show between 1pm and 2pm. If you're in Denver, you know what do do! If you're from elsewhere in the country, you can stream the live broadcast online at www.kuvo.org. The new disc will be in the station's regular rotation. Hope you'll be able to tune in!
Thanks to station music director Arturo Gomez for the decision to play my music!