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 education 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). Phillips completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009, becoming one of the first African-Americans in the country to do so.
An active performer, pedagogue and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England and Japan. He has previously served on the faculty of Grinnell College, 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 throughout the country. As a performer, Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, Terrence Blanchard, Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby McFerrin, Marcus Belgrave, Terrell Stafford, Maceo Parker, Pat Bianchi, Ira Sullivan, Pat Harbison, The Temptations, Red Holloway, Greg Gisbert, the Lexington Philharmonic, the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony and many others. As a recording artist, Phillips released his debut CD "Yaktown Nights" in 2004, “The String Theory” in November of 2010 and “The Reckoning” (featuring New York standouts Pat Bianchi on Hammond Organ, Greg Gisbert on trumpet and Lewis Nash on drums) in 2013. His latest recording project "Duality" (Aug, 2015) is a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music.