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Flip Phillips Dies at 86

Tenor saxophonist Joseph Filippelli-who was better known as Flip Phillips-died Fri. Aug. 17 at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 86.

Phillips became renown in the mid-1940s for his husky sound as part of Woody Herman’s legendary First Herd, and for his roaring participation in Norman Granz’s popular, long-running Jazz at the Philharmonic series of concerts. His screaming, honking solo on a recording of “Perdido” from a 1947 Philharmonic concert brought him popular acclaim and some critical scorn. In the 1950s, Phillips juggled his Philharmonic gigs, co-led a group with fellow ex-First Herder Bill Harris and toured with Benny Goodman in 1959 before settling in Broward County, Fla., and going into semiretirement. By 1975 he was back on the scene, playing jazz parties, festivals and cruises. His last album was 2000’s perfectly titled Swing Is the Thing! (Verve).

Phillips’s funeral was held on Mon. Aug. 20th at the Kraeer Funeral Home in Pompano Beach, Fla.; he will be buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.

Donations can be made to the Flip Phillips Scholarship Fund at the University of Miami, c/o Dr. William Hipp, Dean, School of Music, P.O. Box 248165, Coral Gables, FL 33124.

Phillips is survived by his wife, Miyoko, a sister and a grandson.

Originally Published