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 studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa, where he teaches applied jazz saxophone, directs jazz combos and teaches courses in African-American music, jazz history, jazz theory and improvisation. He has earned bachelor and master of music degrees from DePaul University (Chicago) and The University of Kentucky in classical saxophone; and a second Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Wayne State University (Detroit). 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 Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Belgrave, Terrell Stafford, Maceo Parker, Pat Bianchi, 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 “The String Theory” in November of 2010 which features original compositions and arrangements that combine the traditional jazz rhythm section with a string quartet. His most recent 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 2013.