Meet Jonny Phillips: 10/05/2006 Kerstan Mackness Timeout London: "Guitarist Jonny Phillips might just be the next big star to emerge from the F-IRE Collective, the loose confederation of forward-looking musicians that include the Mercury- nominated Polar Bear and the hip-punk Jazz outfit Acoustic Ladyland, But while those bands embrace electronica, funk and rock influences, Phillips (who played on the Polar Bear album and who regularly collaborates with folky songstress Julia Biel) is a different beast altogether. His music is a pastoral, impressionistic mix of soaring melodies and South American folklore that strives to create an aural form of magical realism. Dreamlike and beautiful, it sounds simultaneously contemporary and yet centuries old. His band Oriole are something of a F-IRE collective super group with big haired drummer Sebastian Rochford (Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, Fulbourn, Taversham), cellist Ben Davis (Julia Biel, Django Bates), Lee Konitz-ish saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock (Monica Vasconcellos), claranetist Idris Rahman (Soothsayers), Danish bassist Anders Christensen (Paul Motion) and Brazilian Percussionist Adriano Adawali Itauna.
"Their new album Migration is an early contender for jazz release of the year, a sublime, slightly unsettling but emotionally rewarding work that draws on folk, north Brazilian, West African and Mediterranean music. Like the Norwegian pianist Christian Wallumrod, Phillips conjures music that is quietly intense, beguilingly beautiful and full of pleasingly robust tunes that stay with you long after you hear them. Expect waltzes, gentle samba, persuasive grooves, poignant themes and uplifting melodies that'll make you smile, think and want to dance."
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... W hen I watched my parents play when I was three years old.
Your sound and approach to music: A mix of many years of influences. Brazilian, Spanish, folklore, serious, rock.
Your teaching approach: One step at a time. Get things right before you move on. Enjoyment.
Your dream band: I have it already especially since I added Sau Paulo-based sax and flute virtuoso Teco Cardoso. Having said that I have dreams of bands with more folkloric lineups. Flutes, accordian, more percussion, vocals.
Favorite venue: The Everyman Theatre - Cheltenham - UK The Vortex Jazz Club - London - UK Spontenio - Sintra - Portugal Colchester Arts Centre - Colchester - UK The Spitz - London - UK
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?Oriole Migration - it's my last.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Composition for my group Oriole, Julia Biel.
Did you know... I was told I could never make it as a musician on my school careers day.
How do you use the internet to help your career? In many ways, website, amazon, mailing lists, MySpace, downloads(sson). Most of this is done by my label (F-ire.com) or my distribution (Proper).
CDs you are listening to now: Geraldo Nunez, Jucal; Monica Salmosa, Trampoline.
How would you describe the state of jazz today? In the UK its amazing!! Very original and creative and great players.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Originality, honesty, arts funding, label promotion, new ways of making money (ie. not CD sales), cheap downloads.
What is in the near future? I am moving to Cadiz in Spain, where I intend to play my guitar on the beach everyday for a few hours.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.