Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Kelly, Phil (Philip Gene)

Kelly, Phil (Philip Gene), arranger, composer, drummer; b. Canton, OH, 16 December 1937. He was born and raised in Canton OH. His parents are Richard Kelly (DOB 1909 Canton OH) and Iva Kelly (DOB 1911 Maryville TN). Both were musicians. His father was an arranger/ songwriter and banjo/guitar player who had his own band in the 30s in North Ohio. Later on, he conducted a large men's chorus in Canton OH after WW2. His mother was a singer/ violinist who worked on radio in Cincinnatti on the old "Moon River" program  in the early 30s ( the one Rosemary Clooney worked on many years later ) before traveling as a continental cabaret performer before meeting my dad.

Phil's band director at Timken HS in Canton 1950-55 was Cecil Armitage, who had been the lead reed player for several years in the Radio City Music hall before getting into education. He forced Phil into doing his first actual paid arrangements as a junior in HS for a school show. Phil studied percussion with George Carey at the Cincinnatti College /Conservatory from 1955-58 when he died. He has a BMus from CCM and Miami U (Ohio) 1960. He's also a graduate of Miami Univ (OH).

He's been a drum and/or arranger for Hal Mc Intyre, Claude Thornhill, Buddy Morrow, Si Zentner, Les Elgart, Neal Hefti,  Tommy Dorsey (Warren Covington) and the Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke ) ghost bands in the late 50s -60s. He playe miscellaneous jazz gigs with Red Garland, Terry Gibbs, and Denny Zeitlin, and then was studio player for 10 years, until arthritis stopped the "playing" part of the career (in 1974/75).

He's also been an Arranger/Drummer/Conductor/ for various artists: Julius LaRosa, Buddy Greco,Oscar Brown jr, Mel Torme, John Gary, Germaine Bazzle, Molly Bee, Marilyn McCoo, Jenny Smith, Sylvia Syms, Mike Douglas, John Nitzinger,Jim Rutledge, Bloodrock, Al "TNT" Braggs, Bill Watrous NY Wildlife Refuge, and Doc Severinsen (and the "Tonight" show orchestra) among others. He's been an arranger for Fort Worth Symphony Pops series since 1975. He's been an arranger for Doc Severinsen for live symphonic appearances with orchestras across the US and Canada. He's been an arranger for Dallas Symphony "3Dallasound" Pops series (1974). He was Composer/ Arranger/Orchestrator for Wishbone (PBS), ten episodes in 1994. He was composer of "West Of Hester St." media projects for PBS (Gold Award award at the Zagreb Intl Education Film Fest). He was composer for the JFK "Sixth Floor" Memorial exhibition in Dallas TX (over six million guests since opening in 1991). He was co-composer with Ken Sutherland and arranger/orchestrator of scores for
Shadows on the Wall and Papa Was a Preacher. He's been an arranger for the Dallas, Houston, North Carolina, and Vermont Symphonies "pops" series (among others). He's a guest lecturer and clinician in film scoring, music in the commercial media, and related subjects at the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, University of Colorado at Denver, and others. He was a clinician and student big band coach at Bud Shank Port Townsend (WA) Jazz Workshop July 2002.

He's had thirty plus years as an arranger/composer for films, television, and advertising. (over 3500 commercials,  industrial and educational films, and industrial theater projects). His late wife Kathy was a professional cellist (shows in Las Vegas and recording sessions, not symphony work). His daughter Lauren was born in 1959 and his son Brian was born in 1962.

Recordings (as arranger and/or composer):
Forth Worth Symp. Orch: Tis the Season; Doc Severinsen: Night Dreams; Bill Watrous: Tiger of San Pedro; Refuge 3: Manhattan Wildlife 3; Lou Fischer Big Band: Bigfoot; NTSU One O'clock  '72; John Gary: Constantly (1974); Jim Rutledge: One Foot in History Capitol; Don Edwards/ FWSO: Prairie Portrait; Germaine Bazzle:  NO Jazz heritage festival; Phil Kelly and the NW Prevailing Winds: Convergence Zone (2003); Terry Gibbs: 52nd and Broadway (2004)

Contact information:
Phil Kelly
2205 W. Birch St
Bellingham, WA  98226

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