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Flip Phillips: Swing Is The Thing

Mark Corroto By

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Generational differences often dictate jazz listening patterns. A younger jazz fan may prefer James Carter over Benny Carter, Ornette Coleman to George Coleman, and so on. Enthusiasm for today’s jazz ‘stars’ should be encouraged, and if your motivation for picking up a copy of tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips’ Verve outing is to complete your collection of Joe Lovano, James Carter, or Benny Green records, your wishes will be well served. But you’ll also be surprised and charmed by two musicians not regularly heard on major labels: Howard Alden and Flip Phillips. Phillips, now 85 years young, began playing alto saxophone and clarinet in the 1930s. He made his mark with Benny Goodman, Red Norvo, and through a famous stint with Woody Herman. Phillips was also a regular on Norman Granz' Jazz At The Philharmonic series, working beside such saxophone titans as Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker. Guitarist Howard Alden, some forty-years Phillips junior, dutifully enhances his return to the national spotlight. Alden, a modern swing stylist, plays with an efficiency and rhythm that is an infectious mixture of pre-bop sound with a very modern logic. His prior recordings on the Concord label are worth searching out.

The disc opens and closes with “The Mark Of Zorro” a three-tenor workout ala JATP. James Carter and Joe Lovano each share one additional track with Phillips. Carter and Phillips share the mild “Where Or When,” with JC sounding like an extra from Robert Altman’s Kansas City. Lovano steps into the up-tempo “Flip The Whip,” with a JATP-friendly noncutting contest take. But the meat and meaning to this disc is the subtle and sometime frail emotive quality to Phillips’ ballad playing. At age 85 he can’t be expected to thrill us with technique, so he romances your sensibilitirs. On “Music, Maestro, Please” everyone sits out except Green, Alden, and Phillips. In this intimate setting, the elder statesman tells us everything you need to know about love, life and jazz.

Track List:The Mark Of Zorro – Intro; I Hadn’t Anyone Till You; Everything I Have Is Yours; Where Or When; In A Mellow Tone; Exactly Like Us; Music, Maestro, Please; Swing Is The Thing; For All We Know; Flip The Whip; Susan’s Dream; This Is All I Ask; Grand Rose; The Mark Of Zorro.

Personnel: Flip Phillips

| Record Label: Verve Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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