Drummer Simon Phillips is widely known and revered for his work with rock guitar legend Jeff Beck, the Pop group “Toto”, appearances with numerous progressive bands, stints on some fairly recent Buddy Rich “Tribute” recordings and over the last several years, a string of fine fusion-based solo outings. And while Phillips is considered one of the most powerful drummers on the planet, many folks don’t associate his laudable and quite enviable talents with the world of jazz. However, with the newly released Vantage Point, the drummer along with some of Southern California’s best and brightest session musicians, opt for the hard-swinging and slightly in-your-face modern jazz approach as the overall results prove to be nothing short of astonishing.
On this effort, Phillips shares top billing with ace keyboardist Jeff Babko along with superb support from bassist Dave Carpenter, trumpeter Walt Fowler and saxophonist Brandon Fields for an energetic series of straight ahead, profusely swinging originals and one Freddie Hubbard tune titled, “Spirits Of Trane”. Through it all, Phillips and Carpenter exhibit an authoritative yet sympathetic presence in concert with Babko’s fierce, well-conceived soloing, huge block chords and a shrewd sense of the dynamic while Fields and Fowler perform with storming ferocity. Basically, the musicians give it one hundred and ten percent from top to bottom as the soloists pull out all the stops amid tricky time signatures, instances of fiery unison choruses and perceptive interplay. - On a special note, Phillips mic’d his kit utilizing early 60’s techniques augmented by present day digital technology. Overall, Vantage Point is a blistering exposition and one that should not be overlooked. Highly recommended.
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