Saxophonist Damani Phillips presents an evening of music featuring University of Iowa Jazz Studies Faculty peer William Menefield. This show comes on the tails of a new series drawing on the rich history of creation between teacher & student that lies at the heart of the jazz tradition.
Dr. Damani Philips is a native of Pontiac, MI, where he began playing at the age of 10. He currently serves as Associate 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, African-American culture, 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 earn this degree. He was named a Yamaha performing artist in 2014.
An active performer, pedagogue and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, Europe and South America. He previously served on the full time 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, lecturer, panelist and adjudicator throughout the country. As a lecturer, Phillips has presented on a variety of topics on jazz and Black music’s association with American culture at venues such as The African-American Museum of Iowa, the Deutschebank Kunsthalle of (Berlin) and well over a dozen colleges/universities within the United States. As a performer, Phillips has shared the stage with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby McFerrin, Marcus Belgrave, Terrell Stafford, Maceo Parker, Pat Bianchi, Bobby Floyd, The Temptations, Red Holloway, Hank Jones and many others. As a recording artist, Phillips released his debut CD "Yaktown Nights" in 2003, “The String Theory" in November of 2010 and “The Reckoning" (featuring New York standouts Pat Bianchi - organ, Greg Gisbert – tpt and Lewis Nash - dr) in 2012. His 2015 recording project "Duality" is a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music. Phillips’ brand new live recording “Live in Iowa" was released in January of 2018.
Phillips is also an active academic scholar, with scholarly presentations at colleges, universities, professional/civic conferences and scholarly forums both domestically and abroad to his credit. His research focuses on addressing cultural concerns in the pedagogy of Black music within academia. He published his first book titled “What is This Thing Called Soul: Conversations on Jazz and Black Culture" in 2017, which delves into the difficult topic of the decline of Black cultural influence/representation in jazz as traditionally taught in academic spheres.
Dr. William Menefield, an active performer and composer, is assistant professor of jazz studies. His eclectic sound of jazz, R&B, soul, and classical, draws the audience in with each note, in every song, at all performances. The Cincinnati native flawlessly and creatively blends the influences of Stevie Wonder with Beethoven and Kenny Kirkland with Bach. He is seen as "a leader whose playing is nothing short of breathtaking" (CityBeat). His distinctive style creates a sound that is uniquely robust and smooth.
William began his professional jazz piano career at age twelve and released his first album, Big Will Leaps In (1999) with J-Curve Records, right out of high school. On this debut album, his "original pieces stand out...because they are intelligently crafted and flow with...lyricism..." (JazzTimes). His second album, Will’s Revenge, was self-produced and released in 2005. In 2002, he was honored to serve as the Artist-in-Residence for The Robert S. Duncanson Society at the Taft Museum of Art. He has also been a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (2005) and the Cincinnati Opera’s "Opera Goes to Church" (2006, 2013, 2016).
Dr. Menefield has shared the stage with Roy Ayers, Clark Terry, David “Fathead” Newman, Gary Bartz, John Blake, Don Braden, Steve Wilson, Javon Jackson, and a host of other outstanding musicians. In 2018, he served as musical director for Jennifer Holliday and participated on the creative team that produced music for the pilot episode of the HBO television series The Watchmen. He continues to perform at venues across the United States and the world, most recently performing in Namibia and Guatemala. He also traveled as a performer/presenter on the university tour, 400: An Afrikan Epic, with the Mark Lomax Quartet (2019-2020).
William's journey in music composition began early, at the age of eight, in response to his mother’s removal of all televisions from their home. His passion for composing inspired him to earn music composition degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (BM, 2005) and The University of Texas at Austin (DMA, 2011).
Dr. Menefield is currently working on commissions for the Cincinnati Opera, including the new opera, Fierce, with librettist Sheila Williams and dramaturg D. Lynn Meyer (set to debut in the summer of 2021). In 2020, he was also commissioned by Dr. Victoria Holland, lyric soprano and vocal coach at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, to compose the five-part song cycle, Here. In the spring of 2019, he had his Carnegie Hall debut with the performance of his choral-orchestral work Prism, commissioned by the Young Professionals Choral Collective. His children's choir piece, My Melody, commissioned by The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, was performed at the 125th anniversary celebration of Cincinnati Music Hall in 2003.
William's commitment to his craft is apparent in his expertly executed and engaging performance and teaching style. He is dedicated to both educating and mentoring young musicians. Dr. Menefield is motivated by sharing the power of music.
Our master of sound has done a terrific job with the audio and video quality & you'll be easily able to cast the video to any device that is chromecast-enabled. Come hear the music play at a safe distance!
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