Todd Phillips is the bassist of choice for many of the most innovative, as well as traditional, acoustic instrumental and bluegrass recordings made since the mid-1970s. A two-time Grammy Award winner and founding member of the original David Grisman Quintet, Phillips has made a career of consistently performing and recording with acoustic music’s finest and most creative artists. His tone, timing, and subtly intricate bass lines make him one of the few real stylists on acoustic bass, and he is among the very best practitioners of the instrument on the scene.
Along with Tony Rice and Darol Anger, Phillips was a founding member of the original David Grisman Quintet. He spent five years playing both rhythm mandolin and bass with the group. He then spent another five years with Rice in The Tony Rice Unit. Rice and Phillips also worked together with J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Bobby Hicks and Jerry Douglas in the now classic bluegrass recording group; The Bluegrass Album Band - producing six albums over fifteen years. Since then, Phillips has had the opportunity to work with a virtual “who’s who” of acoustic music’s finest, such as Vassar Clements, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, John Hartford, Jerry Douglas, Alison Brown, Mike Marshall, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien, Del McCoury, Darrell Scott, Larry Campbell, John Doyle, Dirk Powell, Joan Baez and many more.
In 1983 Phillips received his first Grammy Award for his work with The New South (Crowe, Skaggs, Rice, Douglas) in a live concert recording; “Bluegrass - The Greatest Show on Earth”. Also in ’83, he finished his critically-acclaimed first solo recording; “Released” (Varrick Records), featuring Tony Rice, Darol Anger and John Reischman. Throughout the 1980s, Frets Magazine readers voted Phillips five Readers Poll Awards for “best jazz” and “best bluegrass bassist”.
Phillips has recorded much since then as producer, engineer and artist. In 1993 he produced Kathy Kallick’s “Matters of the Heart”, and in 1995 he released his traditional “old-time” bluegrass instrumental CD; “In the Pines” (Gourd Music), and another CD of all original jazz influenced compositions; “Timeframe” (Compass Records). Todd’s second Grammy Award came in 1997 as producer of “True Life Blues - The Songs of Bill Monroe”. The album received three Grammy nominations and won “Bluegrass Album of the Year”. The project also received two I.B.M.A. Awards (International Bluegrass Music Association).
Throughout the 1990s Phillips toured and recorded with PsychoGrass (Anger, Marshall, Grier, Trischka, Phillips), The Laurie Lewis Band, NewGrange (O’Brien, Anger, Marshall, Brown, Aaberg, Phillips), The Tim O’Brien Band w/Darrell Scott, and Phillips, Grier & Flinner, among others.
Phillips has produced recordings for guitar great David Grier; “Panorama”, and two projects for mandolinist Matt Flinner; “The View From Here” and “Latitude”, which lead to the formation of the innovative instrumental trio; Phillips, Grier & Flinner and their two unique and highly acclaimed CDs; “Phillips, Grier & Flinner” and “Looking Back” (Compass Records), featuring only acoustic guitar, bass, and mandolin as the complete ensemble.
From his experiences teaching at several music camps, in 2001 Phillips completed an set of instructional DVDs for Homespun Tapes; “Essential Techniques For Acoustic Bass, I & II”, and again in 2012 Phillips added to this endeavor by doing a “bass workout” instructional DVD focusing on strength, endurance, pitch and rhythm building exercises for upright bassists.
Todd has produced and engineering projects at his home studio, including Noam Pikelny, Bearfoot Bluegrass, and PsychoGrass. He mixed (and playing on) the Laurie Lewis Band CD “The Golden West”.
In 2008 Phillips moved from California to Nashville and toured the U.S. and Europe for two years with Joan Baez.
His current effort is a tribute recording project for Rounder Records featuring the songs of Hazel Dickens performed by a host of legendary artists including Joan Osborne, Linda Ronstadt, Wynonna, Iris DeMent and Emmylou Harris. He appeared on the David Letterman Show with Elvis Costello and Rosanne Cash during a trip to NY to record them both for the Dickens tribute project. The project is scheduled for release in 2012.
Phillips lives in Nashville, tours with Psychograss, Russ Barenberg & Brittany Haas, will tour Russia (w/ Bill Evans) in August 2012, reuniting with The Bluegrass Album Band (scheduled 2013) and is doing studio work in his new home town.
Todd endorses D’Addario Strings and Fishman Transducers.