Ethan Philion is an award-winning bassist, composer, and bandleader based in Chicago. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and DePaul University, Philion has been praised by the Washington Post for his "well honed chops and astounding musicality” and his debut album, Meditations on Mingus, was commended as “a labor of conspicuous love and respect for a musical titan” by Downbeat Magazine. He has performed with an extensive list of jazz artists including Rufus Reid, Greg Ward, Dana Hall, Mark Feldman, Russ Johnson, Howard Levy, Ryan Cohan, Tito Carillo, Gary Bartz, Alfonso Ponticelli, Ernest Dawkins, Geof Bradfield, Dee Alexander, Mark Gross, Alyssa Allgood, Thaddeus Tooks, Victor Garcia, Mike Allemana, Mai Sugimoto, Paul Marinaro, and more.
Philion’s album Meditations on Mingus was released in 2022 and has garnered praise from publications including the Chicago Tribune, JAZZIZ, Jazzwise, WDCB, and more. Esteemed critic Neil Tesser lauded the album’s “colorful obbligatos [and] ingenious wrinkles that—along with dazzling and deeply realized performances from all—lift this album above so many of the year’s Mingus centennial tributes.” The 10 piece ensemble was one of the headlining acts of the 2022 Chicago Jazz Festival and has performed across the country.
Philion won the 2019 International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition and was selected as one of the four fellowship recipients for the 2020 Chicago Luminarts Jazz competition. More recently, Philion was selected by the Jazz Institute of Chicago for their 2022 New Works Fresh Voices Fellowship. He was honored with the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Fellowship in 2015 where he worked with director Jason Moran.
Philion’s original music quartet–featuring Greg Ward, Russ Johnson, and Dana Hall–has performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Constellation the California Clipper, and more. The quartet was selected as one of the 2020 Year of Chicago Music featured ensembles. Philion also leads an acoustic trio featuring arrangements of jazz standards in the Nat King Cole Trio style.
Philion graduated with a Master's in Music from DePaul University in June, 2019 and received a BM from Oberlin Conservatory in 2014 under the tutelage of Peter Dominguez, Gerald Cannon, Jay Ashby, and Scott Dixon. While at Oberlin, Philion won the Outstanding Soloist Award from Downbeat in the 2014 Student Music Awards edition. His septet also won an Outstanding Small Ensemble Award the same year.
Before moving to Chicago, Philion spent three years working as a bassist in DC and Baltimore performing at Blues Alley, Bohemian Caverns, the Kennedy Center, and more. In 2017 he moved to Chicago where he has a weekly residency with Alfonoso Ponticelli at the Green Mill and frequently at clubs like the Jazz Showcase, Andy's Jazz Club, The California Clipper, Constellation, and more. He has performed across the country in New York City, Denver, Portland, St Louis, Seattle, and more and has performed in Mexico at Xinco Jazz Club.