Born: June 26, 1968 Primary Instrument: Drums, steel
Phil Hawkins is a master percussionist, an accomplished jazz drummer and one of the leading innovators of music for the steelpan. As a percussionist and drummer he has traveled throughout the United States, the Caribbean and South America to perform concerts, teach clinics and study percussion.
Originally from Topeka, Kansas, Phil completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music at Wichita State University where he remained as adjunct faculty, directing the Steelband and Latin Jazz Ensembles. In 1998, Phil moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he quickly gained a reputation as a versatile drummer with groups such as Three Tenors No Opera (Sea Breeze Records), Pete Escovedo, Joe Craven, the Resident Aliens, Ray Obiedo, Sam Bevan and Irish music master Ron Kavana (Proper Records, UK). A friendship with world renown percussionist Michael Spiro eventually led Phil to begin work on his recently released debut CD, “H2O.” He also met and collaborated with vibraphonist Gerry Grosz and bassist Jim Kerwin (David Grisman Quartet) on the 2001 release, “The Cosmic Buzz.”
Throughout his career Phil has been an active teacher, working for the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, CA, the Oakland Fine Arts Summer School and the National Guitar Workshop in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition, he has given clinics at Miami University Ohio, Boise State University, the Wichita Jazz Festival and the Ellie Mannette Steel Drum Workshop in Morgantown, WV. In the Fall of 2004 he was offered a tenure-track position as a member of the music faculty at Mission College in Santa Clara where he currently teaches World Music, MIDI and Digital Audio courses and directs the Mission Percussion Ensemble.
In 1993 he started his own publishing company, P. Note Music, to promote his original music. His catalogue is substantial and the list of schools that have performed his works includes Ithaca College, University of Miami Ohio, University of Illinois, Wichita State University, Brigham Young, Clemson University and Northern Kentucky University to name a few. In addition to the thirty-one compositions for steelpan, Phil has also published several books including, “World Rhythms for Kids: Caribbean Carnival,” “Caribbean Jazz Ensemble,” and “Pan Rhythm.”
From 2002 - 2004 Phil lived in Los Angeles where he continued to work as a jazz drummer. While there he began recording “H2O,” employing the legendary Alex Acuña on drums and percussion. Phil also worked on other recording projects for Caribbean vocalist Jessica Vautor, singer Kathleen Grace, Disney Internet Group, the University of Southern California Vocal Jazz Ensemble and film score composer Patrick Kirst.
Phil’s current recording project “H2O,” (Ramajay Records - 2005) is the culmination of his work as a composer, percussionist and pan player. “H2O” is a mostly instrumental album that showcases Phil’s incredible talents as a composer and steelpan performer. The band includes Paul and Marc van Wageningen on drums and bass, Michael Spiro on percussion, pianist Matt Clark and features a number of special guests including John Calloway, Alex Acuña, Jessica Vautor, Gerry Grosz and James Moore.
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“[Phil Hawkins’] music is incredible; It’s imaginative, deep, fun, well arranged, and a facinating blend of musical cultures. And . . . his band burns!” -Greg Murai - Faculty, The Jazz School, Berkeley, CA
“With steel pans as the lead instrument and a lineup that also includes drums and percussion, there is little doubt that H2O will have an emphasis on groove. Of course, while the churning bottom is an undeniable focus of the music, Phil Hawkins has also composed some light, airy melodies to float above the beats. The music is unfailingly relaxed and possesses a breezy Caribbean lilt that seems to assure that everything will get done in its own sweet time.” -Stephen Latessa, All About Jazz
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