Phil Wigfall

Artist Photo

My name is Phil Wigfall. I was born Feb. 16, 1964 in Oklahoma City, OK. My father was in the Air Force, and my mother was a Licenced Practical Nurse. We moved from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas when my father got his transfer to Nellis Air Force Base just outside Vegas. There we've stayed from 1971 to now.

It wasn't long after we moved to Vegas, that I began to get interested in music. My older brother, Michael had just bought Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" album. The first time I heard that record, I knew I wanted to be a musician. At age 9, my parents bought me the alto saxophone I so desperately wanted. Though the salesmen at the music store suggested that I start on clarinet, my parents gave in to my begging and bought the saxophone.

My folks had great music in the house for me to listen to. Great jazz musicians like Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, The Crusaders, Grover Washington Jr., and Charlie Parker. To this day, those artists still have an emotional impact on my life. Not just as a musician, but as a person. They changed the way I thought about the world. After a while, the excitement of playing the saxophone wore off and I wanted to quit. My mother wasn't having it. She insisted that I keep playing. Today, I am grateful she made me stick with it.

After high school, I enrolled at UNLV then later, transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was a great learning experience being on my own for the first time and being in a more aggressive music environment kept me focused on practicing.

I was a bit of a jazz snob before I got to Berklee. That soon changed when I had the chance to see Miles Davis live. At that time, Miles was playing electric jazz funk. Not exactly bebop! I especially wanted to hear his new alto saxophonist, Kenny Garrett, whom I had met in 1985 at the Village Vanguard jazz club. I was so impressed with his playing, I became more serious about jazz music. That's when I became a jazz snob! But when I heard him playing funk and playing the HELL out of it, I realized I had been wrong! I needed to be as flexible and open-minded a musician as he was! And when I returned to Vegas, I returned with a more positive attitude toward all music.

In 1989, I began working the casino lounge group circuit which was also a great learning experience. I had to learn different styles of music in order to work. A year later, a friend and I sneaked into Bally's casino showroom and caught a glimpse of Sheena Easton's show. Her band sounded great! Incredibly funky with a very Prince-influenced groove. I thought to myself, "I want to be in THAT band"! By 1991, I got my chance! Sheena's tour manager at the time, Marc St. Louis, saw me playing one night. He introduced himself. We exchanged numbers and 6 months later, I got a call to audition. I got the gig, and performed with her for 8 years.

During my time in Vegas, I've also had the opportunity to back up other great artists such as: Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Clint Holmes, Joe Williams, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Bette Midler, and currently with Celine Dion.