Lil Phillips
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Lil Phillips

Band Jazz Pop


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The best kept secret in music


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1. CD "Pull Out Those Dreams" Fall 2005
2. CD "A Lot of Livin' To Do"
pending release 2009



"WOW!...Great Songs, superb singing and masterful arrangements. You can't go wrong with that!........I can't help but recall the sessions I've done with Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan when I listen ever and over again to Lil Phillips."
................................Benny Powell

In an era when “knock offs” are not only commonplace, but culturally valued, how precious is a true original? At a time when youth and naiveté are deified, how remarkable are those who live half their lives taking it all in, intentionally “saving the best for last” to live their passion? Lil and Jim Phillips are two such extraordinary individuals; high school sweethearts who married other people, but found their way back to one another and built a life committed to love, learning, fulfillment of self-expression through music.

“Pull Out Those Dreams,” their first CD outing, showcases remarkably memorable original music and lyrics by Jim Phillips, providing a magnificent stage for Lil’s lush, sophisticated vocal style, which conjures shades of Dinah Washington, while remaining refreshingly original. With arrangements by Howard Johnson and Onaje Allan Gumbs and an all star cast featuring Larry Willis, Bob Cranshaw, Ben Riley, Benny Powell, Vincent Johnson and Cleve Guyton, Phillips’ up-tempo tunes - Mad About You, Why’d You Do It?, exquisite ballads - I Wish That I Knew Magic, You’re My Favorite Dream, So Perfectly, Pull Out Those Dreams, a jazz waltz - I’ve Only Known You a Moment, swing tunes - Though I Don’t Even Know His Name, Just In Case You Change Your Min, a future blues classic - I Thought I Knew About the Blues and happy party closer - Here I Go Again, will have you longing for more.

Jim began his musical career as a bassist for the likes of Horace Silver, Miriam Makeba, Leon Thomas and Willie Bobo. Jaded by the financial uncertainty of the business and disenchanted with a music curriculum that, at that time, was not inclusive of the jazz masters his father had consistently exposed him to, he went to work for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Recently retired, he wrote these “Nu Standards” (as he named his publishing company) during his twenty five years working nights for the MTA. Says Jim, “I loved the peace and solitude of the subway token booth. Working nights gave me the opportunity to enjoy a steady income, benefits, provide a valuable service, and the time to work on the music that fed my soul.”

As fast as Jim churned out each new musical gem, Lil got busy learning every line, note, lick and nuance he intended. A former violin/viola student at The High School of Music and Art, African dancer with Dinizulu African Singers and Dancers, she also studied classical/gospel vocal technique with Emory Taylor (Director of Harlem’sOpera) and vocal style with jazz legend, Barry Harris. As a BA/MA CUNY graduate, Lil became Associate Administrator for the City University Board of Trustees. She took early retirement from CUNY in 1995 to pursue a career as a jazz vocalist. The couple spent their working years immersing themselves in NYC’s jazz culture. Lil formed a band, which opened for the late violinist, Noel Pointer at Aaron Davis Hall, performed locally in clubs like Birdland, B. Smith’s and Symphony Space, in Harlem, Queens and Bronx outdoor festivals, and at hotspots like Copeland’s, where she soon discovered her audience clamoring for more and more of Jim’s original tunes.

After her retirement and a brief stint as assistant to well known jazz manager, Gail Boyd, the couple attended jazz workshops, conventions, festivals and live performances throughout the country. Lil also studied voice with 1999 Thelonius Monk Jazz Vocal Competition winner and Verve recording artist, Teri Thornton. Though Thornton’s incredible comeback was tragically short lived, due to several bouts with cancer, Teri led Lil to a job with Thornton’s manager and producer, Suzi Reynolds. Working together throughout Thornton’s declining health, Lil and Suzi became family. Says Reynolds, “there was always something so familiar about Lil. One day I said to her – ‘You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were Jewish like me.’ Without missing a beat, Lil revealed that her mother was a Hebrew teacher, educator, semi-classical vocalist and lifelong member of Harlem’s oldest black synagogue, The Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation. She and her sister Helene were raised in this historic congregation.

In May 2000, Thornton succumbed to cancer, and one month later, so did Reynolds’ other longtime client, jazz reed legend, Jerome Richardson. Reynolds recalls, “I was devastated and unsure of how I would go on. I informed Lil I couldn’t afford her services any longer. Two weeks later, she was still showing up for work everyday. I reiterated my harsh reality to her and Lil replied, ‘Oh, I’m learning so much from you that I decided to count this as part of my jazz business education and continue working with you fo