Lansing JazzFest Artist Feature: Phil Denny
Lansing's Old Town celebrates the 19th Annual Lansing Jazz Festival this weekend, August 2nd & 3rd.
JazzFest is a free two-day festival that brings the best national, regional and local jazz artists to the stage. Audiences are able to explore and experience all types of jazz music.
JazzFest veteran Phil Denny made his debut as a teenager at the festival in the late 90s, and in previous years he has performed with the band "Too Smooth for Notes." This time around, Denny will make his debut appearance as an independent artist. His music has been described as smooth, sexy, yet energetic, and will premiere on the South Stage of Lansing's JazzFest this Saturday, 6:30PM-7:30PM.
We spoke with Phil Denny about his decision to begin an independent jazz career and what fans can expect from him at JazzFest.
Jane Sugiyama: Tell us a little about yourself and your jazz background.
Phil Denny: I am both a native of Lansing and a lifelong student of music. I discovered jazz at a young age when my brother first exposed me to it. I have played at JazzFest in the past, but this is the first time I will be performing independently.
JS: When did you discover that music and performing was your passion?
PD: Back in 2010, after contemplating a career change, I decided I had reached a point in my life where I wanted to commit to my passion for music and discover what I could make of it in terms of a career. About four years ago, I decided to pursue a solo career and in 2012 released my first album "Crossover" which to date has two Billboard charted singles and can be heard nationally on FM and satellite radio.
JS: Of all the musical genres, why jazz?
PD: Jazz seemed to be a natural fit. As a sax player, I felt that it enabled me to best express myself musically and it was a genre I connected with.
JS: Who inspires your music?
PD: I have many influences in my life and many that have helped shape my music. Some who are close to me, others whom I meet along the way.
JS: What is your favorite part about doing what you do?
PD: The people. Giving the people the opportunity to experience something new and different. Each performance is unique and I have had so many incredible opportunities. I have had a lot of great experiences with diverse audiences.
JS: What's next for Phil Denny?
PD: Through the month of August I am performing in Michigan, and then I leave to headline a festival Nairobi, Kenya. After my return, I will be working on my holiday album which will be released in November. Simultaneously, I will be recording for my follow-up album to "Crossover" which I hope to release in 2014.
Don't miss Phil Denny hit the JazzFest stage in Old Town this weekend! Like what you hear? Head over to iTunes and download his music. Want more? Check out his website www.phildenny.com. Connect with the man himself on Twitter @philonsax and Facebook.