January 2013 CD of the Month
Damani Phillips "Reckoning" Phillips Music
As is our custom, we begin another year of selections with a Colorado connection. Our first choice for 2013 is by alto saxophonist and educator Damani Phillips, The Reckoning featuring Denverite Greg Gisbert on trumpet, former Denver resident Pat Bianchi on the Hammond B-3 organ and the always amazing Lewis Nash on the drums. Dr. Phillips received his doctorate from CU-Boulder for Musical Arts, becoming one of the first African-Americans to earn such a prestigious degree. Currently, Damani is on the faculty of Grinnell College, a liberal arts institution of Grinnell, Iowa, he directs the jazz ensemble and teaches several courses about playing jazz and its history. While at CU-Boulder, Phillips often played along the Front Range earning him the respect of his peers and developing a fan base due to his own swinging style, rooted in the past with contemporary ingredients. Not surprising that he would be steeped in jazz tradition since he hails from the fertile music city of Pontiac, MI.
The Reckoning has 4 originals compositions and 3 cover songs, all tunes were arranged by “D.P”. Besides Greg and Pat, another link to Colorado is that this recording was mixed and mastered at Jeff Jenkins’ Mile High Music in Wheat Ridge. After the opening bop number, Hank Mobley’s “No Room for Squares”, the album’s most poignant performance takes place, Damani’s “One for C.P.”, a dedication to Phillips’ recently departed father, Clarence E. Phillips. Another highlight is Kenny Dorham’s “Lotus Blossom” where Dr. Phillips makes his scatting debut. Throughout The Reckoning, musicianship reigns supreme, the quartet complement each other very well creating an enjoyable listening experience. The same players on this recording will be performing at Dazzle on Sunday, March 17th, however don’t expect them to duplicate the songbook as heard on the CD, master musicians never the play the same song twice the same way ensuring it never gets stale, always fresh out of the creative music oven.