Flip Phillips

Flip Phillips, who angered some critics early on because he gained riotous applause for his exciting solos during Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, for over 50 years was an excellent tenor saxophonist equally gifted on stomps, ballads, and standards. He played clarinet regularly in a Brooklyn restaurant during 1934-1939, was in Frankie Newton's group (1940-1941), and spent time in the bands of Benny Goodman, Wingy Manone, and Red Norvo. However, it was in 1944 that he had his breakthrough. As a well-featured soloist with Woody Herman's Herd (1944-1946), Phillips became a big star. His warm tenor was most influenced by Ben Webster but sounded distinctive even at that early stage. He toured regularly with Jazz at the Philharmonic during 1946-1957, scoring a bit of a sensation with his honking solo on "Perdido" and holding his own with heavy competition (including Charlie Parker and Lester Young). He occasionally co-led a group with Bill Harris, and that band was the nucleus of the ensemble that Benny Goodman used in 1959. Phillips then retired to Florida for 15 years, playing on just an occasional basis, taking up the bass clarinet as a double and making only a sporadic record date. But by 1975 he was back in music full-time, making quite a few records and playing at festivals and jazz parties. Even as he passed his 80th birthday, Flip Phillips had lost none of the enthusiasm or ability that he had a half-century earlier. ~ Scott Yanow

  • ORIGIN
    Brooklyn, NY
  • GENRE
    Jazz
  • BORN
    Feb 26, 1915

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