Reynold Philipsek

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Reynold D. Philipsek
Photo of Reynold Philipsek performing at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis, MN
March 2012
Background information
Birth nameReynold David Philipsek
Born (1952-12-08) December 8, 1952 (age 65)
Richmond, Minnesota, U.S.
GenresGypsy jazz, jazz, rock, pop rock
Occupation(s)Guitarist, vocalist, composer, string arranger, guitar instructor
InstrumentsGuitar, voice
Years active1967 – present
LabelsRephi Records
Associated actsEast Side, Twin Cities Hot Club, Sidewalk Café

Reynold David Philipsek (born December 8, 1952) is an American musician, jazz guitarist, singer-songwriter and poet. Philipsek has released forty CDs of original compositions since 1989. A member in good standing in the American Federation of Musicians labor union since the age of 14, Philipsek has explored numerous musical genres including pop rock, rock, jazz, and gypsy jazz.

Philipsek’s work as a guitarist has been reviewed in Guitar Player, Acoustic Guitar, Vintage Guitar, Billboard and Downbeat, where Philipsek received a four star review at the age of 22. Philipsek was chosen as a Guitar Player Magazine Jazz Poll nominee for six consecutive years (1975 to 1980), has been nominated for five Minnesota Music Awards, and has had three songs in the iTunes Top 75 Gypsy Jazz Essentials.

Active as a composer and performer, Philipsek can be seen as a solo performer, and in numerous collaborative efforts. Philipsek has performed in support of national and international acts such as Connie Evingson, Clint Hoover, The Wolverines Big Band, Glen Helgeson, and Patrick Harison. Philipsek played with French Gypsy Jazz master Dorado Schmitt during his 2005 U.S. tour. On August 28, 2010, Philipsek was one of two opening acts for Leo Kottke at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, Minnesota.

In addition to writing, arranging and performing, Philipsek has been a guitar instructor for twenty-five years and has provided instruction to more than 2,700 students in both individual and group settings.

Early career[edit]

Philipsek began playing guitar at the age of 9, and joined the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) labor union at the age of 14 (1967). Philipsek has been a member in good standing with the AFM since that time. At the age of 16, Philipsek wrote and recorded the single Oval Portrait,[1] and its B-side Stepping Stone,[2] with the musical act Cure of Ares. Oval Portrait received enough mid-west regional radio airplay to garner an invitation to perform on the ABC Television show THE HAPPENING '69, produced by Dick Clark Productions, as an act performing in the band contest feature of the show.[3] Cure of Ares taped on Sunday, April 20, 1969, for the Season 2, Episode 24 installment, which aired on May 17, 1969. The telecast included performances by Three Dog Night, and The Peppermint Rainbow. Each member of Cure of Ares received a Westclox wrist watch as a prize for their participation. From 1969 through 1971, Cure of Ares toured extensively throughout the midwest (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota) and recorded a second single called Sunshine.[4]

In 1970, Cure of Ares was chosen from over 15,000 entries as one of 50 semi-finalists in a national music competition, "Iced Tea's Big Search for the New Sound"[5] presented by the Tea Council of the U.S.A., Billboard Magazine and over 200 radio stations. Judges included Hal David (Academy Award winning lyricist for "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"), John Hammond (Columbia Records executive), Al Bell (Vice President and producer for Stax Records), Vince Calandra (talent coordinator for The Ed Sullivan Show), Bob Crewe (President of Crewe Records), and Don Ovens (Director of reviews for Billboard Magazine).

At the age of 18, Philipsek was exposed, through a radio broadcast, to gypsy jazz music performed by Jean "Django" Reinhardt for the first time. This proved to be a pivotal experience that would have a defining influence on his later career. At the age of 22 (1975), Philipsek received a private lesson and attended two workshops from jazz guitarist Joe Pass. During this same time period, Philipsek studied jazz guitar and The Complete Johnny Smith Approach to Guitar with Mike Elliott, a protégé of Johnny Smith. These experiences cemented Philipsek's lifelong interest in jazz.

After Philipsek's stint in Cure of Ares, Philipsek continued to play in various musical acts in the midwest in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s Philipsek founded and recorded three CDs with Reynold's Remarkable Rhythm Cattle — Uptown and Country (1990), What’s Inside? (1991), and Memory Lane (1992).

Solo work[edit]

Beginning in 1989, Philipsek became primarily a solo artist. Between 1989 and the present, Philipsek has released forty solo CDs (in genres including rock, pop-rock, jazz and gypsy jazz) on his Rephi Records label. The releases include both purely instrumental and vocal offerings.

In 1998, Philipsek contributed to the album Grok This / Defacing the Music of Todd Rundgren,[6] providing the Todd Rundgren-inspired track Invisible Man (Track 3).

Philipsek has composed string arrangements for songs by artists including Molly Maher, Patrick Eckart and others.


In the spring of 1980, Philipsek was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The diagnosis was particularly frightening for Philipsek as, at the time, treatments for this form of the disease had not reached the high survival rates found today.[7] After undergoing chemotherapy procedures over the course of six months, Philipsek has been cancer-free since.

In 2005, Philipsek was celebrating twenty-five years cancer-free when he realized that he had, to date, released twenty-four CDs. The concept for the CD 25 was born. Seven of the eight tracks on 25 are new recordings of Philipsek compositions from over the twenty-five years since the cancer diagnosis. Through a formal relationship with the American Cancer Society (ACS), for the first two years after its release, five dollars ($5.00US) from the sale of every 25 CD was donated to the ACS.

Evolving sound[edit]

Philipsek's early exposure to the influences of Joe Pass, Mike Elliott and Django Reinhardt have always informed his playing style and compositions, but it wasn't until after the release of 25 in 2005 that Philipsek began to concentrate on jazz and gypsy jazz in his writing and recording. The CD titles that Philipsek has released since 25 all reflect a predominately jazz and gypsy jazz style.

Philipsek's latest releases, All the Things You Are (2010) and Tales from the North Woods (2011), include elements of gypsy jazz, bebop, Latin folk music, modal jazz and Slavic folk music informed by Philipsek's burgeoning interest in the folk music of his Czech and Polish heritage.

Since becoming predominately a jazz and gypsy jazz guitarist, Philipsek has appeared at various gypsy jazz festivals, jazz clubs and concert venues including the Grand Marais Jazz Festival, Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival, The Cedar Cultural Center, Dakota Jazz Club, and Artists’ Quarter.

In addition to solo performances, Philipsek collaborates with groups East Side and Sidewalk Café in the composition, recording and performance of gypsy jazz music.

Philipsek regularly receives press coverage from traditional print and online outlets such as the StarTribune,[8],[9] Vintage Guitar,[10] Acoustic Guitar,[11] MinnPost[12] and International Musician.[13] Philipsek appears regularly on television and radio — both as a solo performer and with his collaborative efforts — including KARE 11 Showcase Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), WFMU (New York, NY),[14] and Minnesota Public Radio (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN).[15]

Film, literature and video[edit]

In 1984, Philipsek scored the original music for the children’s film short, St. Cloud Sleep.

In June, 1999, Philipsek released a book of poetry entitled Journey to the Middle Ages. Based on autobiographical events and loosely inspired by Chaucer and Dante, the verse deals primarily with Philipsek's thoughts on death, aging, time, fear and religion.

In July, 2003, Philipsek released That's My Face, a DVD of six promotional video shorts from Philipsek's back catalog.

Filmed in July 2004 and released in February 2005, Three Piece Suite/Munsinger Gardens (DVD) captures Philipsek, saxophonist Al Asmus and bassist Jeff Engholm performing eight Philipsek original compositions and three classic standards — Days of Wine and Roses, Night and Day, and All of Me.

Philipsek, as a member of the gypsy jazz ensemble The Twin Cities Hot Club, released in 2007 the DVD Live at The Times, featuring in concert footage, swing dancers, fan interviews and special guest performers.


Year Information
2015 Quintessence
Released: March 2015
2013 Simplicity
Released: August 2013
2012 rara avis
Released: October 2012
2012 Last Summer
Released: January 2012
2011 Tales from the North Woods
Released: April 2011
2010 All the Things You Are
Released: June 2010
2009 Imagine That
Released: December 2009
2009 Cottage Industry
Released: October 2009
2009 East Side
Released: March 2009
2008 Anthology
Released: October 2008
2008 Tempus Fugit
Released: April 2008
2007 Long Ago, Far Away
Released: November 2007
2007 What It Is
Released: September 2007
2006 Artifacts and Curiosities
Released: January 2006
2005 25
Released: October 2005
2005 Bistro
Released: January 2005
2004 Grey Chalet
Released: May 2004
2003 Three Piece Suite
Released: December 2003
2003 Homage to Django
Released: July 2003
2003 Now What?
Released: May 2003
2003 Themes from Imaginary Movies
Released: January 2003
2002 Guitar
Released: June 2002
2002 Middle-aged Child Prodigy
Released: January 2002
2001 Standards and Artifacts
Released: September 2001
2001 14 Pieces for Guitar
Released: June 2001
2000 Paris Suite;
Released: November 2000
2000 Fool's Paradise
Released: April 2000
1999 Old Ghosts
Released: October 1999
1998 Paint Your Own World
Released: May 1998
1997 20th Century Good-bye
Released: July 1997
1996 The First Hundred Years (...are the roughest)
Released: September 1996
1995 House of Curiosities
Released: November 1995
1994 Global Home Movie
Released: December 1994
1994 Russian Nights Through Rose Colored Glasses (cassette)
Released: January 1994
1993 Reynold
Released: May 1993
1992 Rephi Christmas Present (cassette)
Released: November 1992
1992 Memory Lane Reynold's Remarkable Rhythm Cattle)
Released: June 1992
1991 What's Inside? Reynold's Remarkable Rhythm Cattle)
Released: April 1991
1990 Cottage Industry (cassette)
Released: November 1990
1990 Uptown and Country ( Reynold's Remarkable Rhythm Cattle)
Released: May 1990
1989 Apple Pie (cassette)
Released: December 1989
1989 The Peter Pan Principle
Released: June 1989
1987 No Duds (The Bottlerockets)
Released: July 1987
1986 Reynold; it's high time" (vinyl mini-LP)
Released 1986
1984 Black and Blue (vinyl)
Released: June 1984
1972 Sailor (Sailor self-title record)
Released: July 1972
1969 Sunshine (Cure of Ares, composed by Philipsek)
Released: July 1969
1968 Oval Portrait (Cure of Ares, composed by Philipsek)
Released: February 1969


Guitar Player Magazine[edit]

  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1975 (nominee)[16]
  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1976 (nominee)[17]
  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1977 (nominee)[18]
  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1978 (nominee)[19]
  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1979 (nominee)[20]
  • Guitar Player Jazz Poll 1980 (nominee)

Minnesota Music Awards[edit]

  • Minnesota Music Awards 1995 Overall World Music Recording[21]
  • Minnesota Music Awards 2006 Guitarist and Jazz Recording[22]


External links[edit]