It’s not everyday that the phone rings with a musical genius on the other line. In the past year, this column has enjoyed that phenomenon on more than one occasion. This time it was Phil Lassiter. In this profile, you’ll learn about the amazingly gifted Phil Lassiter and make new discoveries about his contributions to your favorite music.
Gotta get that name…
His name is synonymous with horn and string lines in gospel music. His name is Phil Lassiter. You should know him…chances are, you’ve heard him on your favorite gospel tracks for years! Lassiter has come into his own as of late and is the only name some artists turn to when adding brass,woodwinds and strings to their arrangements.
Lassiter’s name has come up in major circles across the music industry. References pour in from one genre to the next. Lassiter credits gospel music superstar Donald Lawrence with his placement with R&B Supergroup Frankie Beverly and Maze.
It was bassist Andrew Gouche’ (James Cleveland/Edwin Hawkins) who referred Lassiter to one of a kind superstar, Prince. Lassiter has assumed the role of section leader/horn arranger for Prince on Gouche’s recommendation. Countless other recommendations have profited Lassiter in the secular arena also. James Poyser, Johnny Lang, Yelawolf,James McKinney,Tommy Sims and Harmony Samuels have been instrumental in Lassiter’s success and steady climb in the secular arena.
Head east young man…
Phil Lassiter took time to share his incredible journey with this examiner;and like many, his ascent to the zenith of music arranging isn’t without its share of hardship. It is his faith and stern dedication to his craft that have kept him during life’s most difficult times.
Phil Lassiter,a “PK” (preacher’s kid) decided to walk away from his post as church music director and all that he’d knew to pursue the unknown via a full time music career halfway across the country. The journey that led him from Dallas to Nashville wasn’t without bumps in the road and second guesses, still Lassiter assures that it was the best move he’s ever made. Splitting time between Nashville,Washington D.C and Minneapolis, Lassiter remains in demand and at work with the top names in music of all genres.
Phil with Prince’s horn section
Final touches and the midas touch…
Songs aren’t complete until Lassiter’s midas touch is applied…in both theory and practice. Lassiter’s blistering horn arrangements are often conceptualized after the recording is done and are overdubbed in a studio. His award winning pedigree is on display in his discography and it continues to grow with each album contribution!
It would be impossible to list every artist Lassiter has worked with here, but to view a short discography you can click here. You can also view a more complete discography here and here as Paul, but you know who it is!
Not surprisingly, he has carved out time for his own musings. His music goes beyond funky, it’s Philthy!
It all goes back to Louis Armstrong…
Close your eyes and open your ears. Lassiter has gleaned from iconic groups like: Tower of Power, Earth Wind and Fire,The Funk Brothers of Motown,Jerry Hay, Quincy Jones, Cameo, Blood Sweat and Tears, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Parliament, Chicago and Louis Armstrong to create his unique sound. He says of his musical influences: “…it all goes back to Louis Armstrong…” The intricacies and arranging depth you hear comes from years of studying their one of a kind sound.
Phil Lassiter is a multi-talented,multi-faceted musician. The range and scope of his tremendous gift can’t be garnered in one setting. He does so much in a space that so little actually take note of, it’s easy for him and countless others to be overlooked.
Real music fans want to know who wrote, produced and played on their favorite tracks and all music creators deserve to be credited for their work. Credits in the hands of fans will lead to more music discovery, as fans will want to know what other songs a songwriter wrote or a producer produced. Help us convince digital music services to tell fans who made the music they enjoy. -Grammy.com
You can sign a petition here, to demand that full label credit be given to all contributors on digital downloads and music players.
Lassiter begins 2013 with a release from Johnathan Nelson entitled “Finish Strong”. Lassiter certainly plans to, as he considers this hard earned success “only the beginning!” There’s much more in store for Lassiter, much more than can be contained in one article. Look for Lassiter’s sophomore release with the his band “Philthy” featuring the likes of: Bobby Sparks, Joey and Mark Kibble, Tommy Sims, Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry, Jay White, and Bernard Wright.
Special thanks to Philip Lassiter, and Tiffany Napper for this wonderful privelege!
This man and his trumpet have single handedly transformed horn arranging in mainstream/independent genres. His inimitable style and sound is palatable for every musical taste!
Credited with the best eyes(fashion) and ears in gospel music, Donald Lawrence’s role in the development of Lassiter’s stellar career continues to develop. From referring Lassiter to work inside gospel music to the secular arena, Lawrence is spot on with each professional placement he has endowed upon the trumpeter!
John P. Kee
“…John P. Kee is the truth,man!” Lassiter spoke about Kee’s timely contribution to his career. It was during his transition to a professional career in Nashville that Pastor Kee provided a pivotal opportunity. He hasn’t forgotten that moment and continues to share the impact that had on his fledgling professional career at the time.
Lassiter has contributed to many of Franklin’s hit songs. Most recently, featured on the “Hello Feature” project Lassiter arranged and played both trumpet and flugelhorn. Franklin says of Lassiter:
The genius of Phil is to marry his masterpiece arrangements that concludes the story of the song. His sound lifts the idea off of the paper until you feel it in your chest!
The man credited with introducing Phil Lassiter to gospel the gospel industry and thrusting him into the mainstream is Bobby Sparks. At the time, Sparks continues to play for Kirk Franklin and other world famous artists and singers.
Sparks and Lassiter have grown their professional network, working together on various projects and have seen their collective efforts garner numerous awards all over the world!
Ted and Sheri
Lassiter’s gospel work began with powerhouse dou Ted and Sheri. Known for their stream of hits, Lassiter lent his talents and began what has come to be a stellar career.
What can you say about the “Purple One”? Well, you can’t say that his horns aren’t tight…never have been and never will be! When Prince put word out that he needed a horn section leader who could write, bassist Andrew Gouche had the right man for the job and connected Lassiter to Prince.
Lassiter leads and writes for the 11 piece horn section that features the instrumentation comprised of: one tenor saxophone, two trombones, two alto saxophones,two baritone saxophones and four trumpets. Lassiter has risen to the challenge and remains at the helm of this outstanding horn section. The band hits the world-famous Montreaux Jazz Festival for a three day appearance Saturday through Monday July 13-15,2013.
Before you knew him as the hit producer that brought the world “The King of Popto new heights of fame and musical genius, Quincy Jones was a noted arranger and wrote for the likes of William “Count” Basie in the Big Band Era.
When asked about Jones’ influence and any parallel, Lassiter acknowledged Jones’ work on the soundtrack to the ever popular “The Wiz” soundtrack. Much more than Jones, Lassiter pinpointed Jerry Hay’s impact that helped shape the “pop” sound Jones so ingeniously crafted for artists worldwide.
Frankie Beverly and MAZE
Another referral of Donald Lawrence’s, Lassiter has enjoyed time on stage and writing for this iconic R&B group. Lassiter has written for some of the best and though this group easily stands on its own, any addition from Lassiter made them exponentially greater!
Kelly Rowland has finally come from under the shadow of Destiny’s Child and Beyonce Knowles. She has crafted a new image and bigger sound! Part of that revamping includes the genius of one Phil Lassiter! Her newest album “Talk a Good Game” is set to premiere June 18,2013.
You’e heard the single all across the airwaves. “Finish Strong” is the first single from Jonathan Nelson’s newest album with the same name. Nelson had high praise for Lassiter’s work on the project, once you hear the song, so will you!!
One of this generation’s highest soaring voices, Ledisi can easily toggle between jazz, gospel or R&B and often does. Her breakout hit “Goin’ Thru’ Changes” featured a gospel inspired organ sound that had many asking the question: “who is that?” Once being discovered by the masses, she continues to reach new heights and along the way she has brought along with her the absolute BEST in music. In that exclusive group Phil Lassiter has found a place, arranging horns on her 2007 album Lost & Found.
Another Destiny’s Child alum, Williams has engrossed herself in a bey of entertainment industry opportunities. She still has a penchant for making music and has recorded both secular and inspirational albums since her DC days.
Her Lassiter connection? Phil Lassiter was tapped to arrange strings for Williams. Though Lassiter is a gifted trumpeter, he also plays keyboards and has come on as of late as a tremendous arranger for strings as well!
The talk surrounds ‘Tasia’s newest single: “Lose to Win” but wait until you hear “Side Effects of You” featuring Phil Lassiter’s midas touch! You’ll soon know why Phil is the go-to guy when it comes to auxiliary arranging! Fantasia’s newest album debuted earlier this year and is still selling strong on the R&B charts.
Roberta Flack has had her own way with music since she burst on the scene. Never one without a commanding grip of her craft(singing/playing), or the industry Flack recorded her own rendition of iconic Beatles’ classics.
The recordings wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from Lassiter. He arranged strings on this phenomenal album that included a host of industry heavyweights!
The music industry lost a legend this year. The “Godfather of Go-Go Music” passed away earlier this year. Lassiter is part of the team that went to work on what turned out to be Brown’s final album.
The album is in its final stages of production is due out later this year.
Phil Lassiter and the Dallas All-Stars
Lassiter pulled together top gospel artists to contribute on this project. This unparalleled project featured Fred Hammond, Martha Minuzzi, Marcus Cole,Myron Butler and various singers from Kirk Franklin and God’s Property recordings. This cd is a must have and it features the blazing horn line that are rarely duplicated!
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play with soul like the pros,this set is for you! Phil Lassiter has brought along Wes Stephenson (bass) ,Aaron Kelly (guitar) and John Carruth (drums) to teach you everything you need to know about contemporary worship stylings. You can purchase dvd’s separately or the complete series. All are available in addition to other soulful resources at: soulfulproductions.com
Feel the Fire
What happens when you combine the hottest talent from the Dallas-Fort Worth area…there will be fire! On this project, Lassiter pooled talent from near and far in the DFW area and crafted perhaps one of the most musical offerings of our time!