Bill Phipps

Bill Phipps



DATE OF BIRTH: Dec. 25, 1931

DATE OF DEATH: Dec. 3, 2011


INSTRUMENT: saxophone


Bill Phipps belongs to one of the pre-eminent jazz families in New Jersey whose members began playing in Newark going back to the '30s. He also enjoys the distinction, with his twin brother Nat, a pianist, of forming the first band that featured Wayne Shorter, another Newark native. That group was the Nat Phipps Big Band. Phipps' first instrument was the clarinet, which he began playing at age 7. Three years later, he picked up the sax. In 1960, the Phipps brothers scaled back the big band and renamed the new group the "Mega Tones." The band worked many of the major jazz clubs on the East Coast. Phipps left the Mega Tones in 1967 for a stint in Buddy Johnson's band before  joining Dizzy Gillespie. He has also played in the bands of Jack McDuff, Irene Reid and Lloyd Price. With an undergraduate degree in music education from NYU and a master's from Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), Phipps taught in the Newark school system for many years before retiring in 1992. He and Nat are younger cousins to brothers Ernie and Gene Phipps. The late Ernie Phipps was a pianist, while Gene is an alto and tenor saxophonist. Both Ernie and Gene Phipps were popular attractions on the Newark jazz scene for many years and each led his own touring band. Phipps plans to release his first CD in late 2009.

NEWARK CLUBS: Key Club, Len & Len's, Sparky J's, Sugar Hill

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