PHIL RODRIGUEZ is a trumpet player, composer and teacher currently based in Easthampton, Massachusetts. A native of Santa Barbara, CA, he has spent many years developing his professional career in both New York City and Los Angeles. He is perhaps best known as a member of the nationally acclaimed funk/soul/pop band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, racking up over 700 live performances around the U.S. and Canada, and recording on four studio releases and a double live album since 2011. Phil has also toured with esteemed Vermont-based vocalist and songrwriter Kat Wright, and most recently joined the internationally celebrated band Beirut.
Phil has gained many years of experience as a freelance performer, sideman, studio session player, and private instructor in Los Angeles, New York, and Durham, North Carolina, before recently relocating to Massachusetts, cutting his teeth alongside some of the world's finest performers and studio musicians. He continues to tour and maintain an active freelance career. He has performed in a wide range of musical settings, including with pop, rock, funk and soul bands, singer-songwriters, jazz big bands and small groups, commercial and pops orchestras, contemporary music chamber ensembles, as well as avant-garde jazz and improvised music ensembles. He has also led his own small ensembles focused on his original compositions. He has gained a reputation for his musicality and versatility, and is often noted for his recognizably warm, rich trumpet tone, which he credits in part to his several years of studies with trumpet guru Bobby Shew.
He has appeared on stage with names as diverse as Stevie Wonder, David Byrne, Michael Bublé, Diana Krall, Quincy Jones, Roy Hargrove, Jane Monheit, Barry Manilow, Bonnie Raitt, The Wood Brothers, Bernard Purdie, Robert Randolph, Amanda Palmer, Anders Osborne, Butch Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Roosevelt Collier, The North Mississippi Allstars, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. Phil has recorded, performed and toured as a member of East West Quintet, a NYC-based instrumental jazz/rock/fusion group which Downbeat magazine hailed as a "clever, highly disciplined instrumental unit." He is also a former member of Industrial Jazz Group, an adventurous and irreverent large ensemble led by the brilliant composer Andrew Durkin, with whom Phil recorded two albums and toured the U.S. and Europe. In a review of IJG's 2004 release, The Star Chamber, Wire magazine gives mention to Phil as an "outstanding soloist" for his trumpet work on the album. He also has a number of other studio credits to his name, including work with artists such as Hercules & Love Affair, Wires Under Tension, Eleanor Friedberger, Jessica 6, and Jenny Owen Youngs. Visit the music page to listen to a playlist of Phil's work with these artists and more. Phil has toured Japan three times as a member of the Percy Faith Orchestra, and toured the U.S. in 2004 with Concord recording artist Monica Mancini, daughter of the late Henry Mancini, performing over 50 shows with her band.
Phil holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, where he studied trumpet with Bobby Shew, Clay Jenkins and John Thomas. In 2000, Phil was the winner of the L.A. Philharmonic Jazz Trumpet Fellowship award and was given the opportunity to perform with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl alongside Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton and Jon Faddis, and also had the chance to study trumpet with CHJO trumpeters Oscar Brashear and Bobby Rodriguez. In 1998, just out of high school, Phil was accepted to the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, a prestigious professional summer music residency aimed at preparing college and post-college music students for a career in commercial music. While at HMI, Phil had the opportunity to study trumpet with Charlie Davis and legendary session trumpeter Uan Rasey, as well as perform under the direction of Gunther Schuller, Vince Mendoza and Quincy Jones, among others.
Phil began studying classical piano at age 5 with Lana Bodnar, later adding the trumpet at age 13 and studying with Bob Ontiveros. He is an alumnus of the Santa Barbara Music and Arts Conservatory, as well as Santa Barbara High School's award-winning jazz big band and combo under the direction of Ike Jenkins, a local music education icon who Phil credits with inspiring him to pursue a career in music. Phil won several awards as an outstanding trumpet soloist while in high school, and in his senior year, his combo won "best overall instrumental ensemble" at the Reno International Jazz Festival out of over 100 high school big bands and small groups. That combo, comprised of Phil and his close high school friends and musical co-conspirators, Aaron McLendon on drums, Nathan Herrera on alto sax and woodwinds, and Ryan Blum on bass, would later evolve to become known as The Buster T. Farmsworth Quintet, a group which would prove to play a seminal role in Phil's musical development. Influenced by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus and the downtown New York improv scene, BTFQ forged a fearless brand of collective improvisation and sonic exploration, and eventually garnered a reputation for their adventurous, unpredictably transcendent weekly performances at a downtown Santa Barbara coffee/art house during the summers and winter breaks when they were home from their various colleges. In a review of one of the group's live performances, jazz critic Joe Woodard wrote in the Santa Barbara Independent, "Phil keeps his melodic glow about him, with a voice sometimes reminiscent of new trumpet hero Dave Douglas." After college, that group would evolve again. The newer incarnation, this time with Kevin Ferrell on bass, would become known as The Notorious L.A. Music Scene, which formed when all four members were living in L.A. and would continue to exist in New York City after all four members moved there for a time. Despite periods of both activity and dormancy, this quartet continued to explore deeper sonic spaces and methods, and served to open Phil's mind to new ways of thinking about sound, composition and improvisation. Neither group ever recorded a proper studio release, however many home recordings and bootleg live recordings exist, and their rarity has made them highly sought after and quite valuable on the dark web. Or, at least, that's how they'd like to imagine it.
Phil hails from a musical family. His aunt and uncle were an internationally touring jazz vocal duo, The Cunninghams; his father is a talented classical guitarist (who toured with The Cunninghams for a time); his grandparents sang in their church choir; his cousin, Clara Rodriguez, is a renowned Bay Area flamenco dancer, pianist and vocalist, and her partner David McLean is a sought-after professional flamenco guitarist and composer; another cousin, Rob Peterson, is an in-demand professional drummer/percussionist/composer in Southern California; many more members of Phil's extended family are talented vocalists and instrumentalists or are musically inclined in some way. Phil grew up listening to his dad's record collection, with Bach, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and Jobim in heavy rotation, and Phil's parents encouraged him to explore music from an early age.
In his spare time, Phil also very much enjoys the outdoors, hiking, traveling, surfing, skiing, disc golf, and cooking. As his friends and bandmates will surely confirm, he is also a bit of a coffee snob.