Damani Philips is a native of Pontiac, MI, where he began playing saxophone at the age of 10. Prof. Phillips joined the music faculty of Grinnell College in 2008, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble and teaches courses in jazz composition/arranging, jazz history, improvisation, musicianship and aural skills. 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 previously served on the adjunct faculty of Oakland University (Rochester, MI) and Macomb Community College (Macomb, MI), and is actively sought as a guest artist, clinician and adjudicator. As a performer, Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Belgrave, Terrell Stafford, Maceo Parker, Ira Sullivan, The Temptations, Red Holloway, Greg Gisbert, the Lexington (KY) Philharmonic, the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony, the Central Iowa Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, the touring Dave Matthews cover band "Crush", and many others. As a recording artist, Phillips released his debut CD "Yaktown Nights" in 2004, and released his second album "The String Theory" in November of 2010; which features his original compositions and arrangements that combine the traditional jazz rhythm section with a string quartet. His newest quartet recording project "The Reckoning" (featuring New York standouts Pat Bianchi on Hammond Organ, Greg Gisbert on trumpet and Lewis Nash on drums) will be released in November of 2012.