Phil DeGreg began playing the piano in his childhood and now performs as a jazz pianist internationally. His earliest jazz influences were Bud Powell and Bill Evans, but he is accomplished and comfortable in a wide range of jazz styles, ranging from traditional to bebop to Brazilian jazz. His versatility has led to professional performances with dozens of internationally recognized jazz artists, as well as leading and recording with his own groups. Phil DeGreg has released twelve recordings as a leader and has been recorded as a sideman on many other jazz projects. He is also featured with J.J. Johnson on the video “J.J. Johnson Live in Concert.” The late pianist James Williams described Phil as “a musician of ceaseless curiosity…relaxed, natural, and soulful.” Jazz Improv magazine called him “…a strong musician with rock-solid rhythmic power and a tasteful sense of melody and arrangement.”
A native of Cincinnati, Phil completed a degree in psychology from Yale University before becoming a professional musician. After three years working and studying music in Kansas City, he finished a masters degree at University of North Texas, and subsequently toured the world for a year with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd. Subsequently, he was the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants. He was named one of the 10 best unsigned pianists in Jazziz Magazine’s 1995 “Keyboardists on Fire” competition, and was a 1996 finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. For 16 years, he served as the house pianist at Cincinnati’s famous Blue Wisp Jazz Club, accompanying visiting artists on weekends, including Scott Hamilton, Joe Lovano, Jiggs Whigham, and countless others. He received two of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s prestigious “Cammy” Awards, and has been a frequent nominee for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. His jazz festival appearances include the North Sea, Pori, Monterey, Montreux, Brecon, Wigan, and Elkhart Jazz Festivals. Phil has performed in clubs and concerts throughout the United States, and in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Brazil. In 2008 Phil was awarded a four month Fulbright Fellowship to lecture about jazz in Brazil. In 2016 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame.
Phil considers music to be a gift and is dedicated to sharing his love of jazz through teaching. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, from which he recently retired after 28 years. He has taught for the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops since 1982 and has also taught at the UK Jazzwise Jazz Camps, the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, the Miami Valley Summer Jazz Workshops, and the Jim Widner Jazz Camps. He has appeared as a visiting artist/clinician at colleges and high schools throughout the U.S., Europe, Central and South America. Phil has presented lecture/demonstrations to the International Association of Jazz Educators, the National Group Piano Teachers Association, the Ohio Music Educator’s Association, the Ohio Music Teachers Association, and the Music Teachers National Association, and has published articles for Jazz Player Magazine. In 1995 he published “Jazz Keyboard Harmony,” a chord voicing method written for non-pianists and beginning jazz pianists, which is now used at universities throughout the world.
An extensive biographical article about Phil DeGreg from the All About Jazz web site can be found here.