All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

393

Joseph C. Phillips, Jr.'s Numinous: Vipassana

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Composer-conductor Joseph C. Phillips, Jr. has a way of making his ensemble, Numinous, sound even larger than its 25 pieces. Of the three wind players, Ed Xiques plays five different instruments, Dan Willis handles six, Ben Kono a grand total of eight. As a result, Vipassana, Phillips' sophomore recording, abounds with nearly every sort of flute, clarinet and saxophone sonority, not to mention oboe and English horn. The rest of the band is a veritable Noah's Ark: two brass players (trumpet and trombone), two vibists, two guitarists, two pianists, two percussionists and five vocalists, as well as doubled violins, violas and cellos. Far from getting lost in this aural sea, Thomson Kneeland, the lone bassist, anchors the music with solid, resounding notes.

Inspired by Buddhist spirituality, Vipassana is in some sense a post-minimalist classical work that refers explicitly to the sound world of Steve Reich. The vibraphone motifs and staccato vocal snippets of the third movement, "Into all the Valleys Evening Journeys," come so close to Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (ECM, 1978) that it's almost startling. Phillips, in his liner notes, owns up to the Reich influence and explains how Mahler and Björk also rear their heads during the final and longest movement, "The Nothingness That Is the Source of Everything." Pivoting naturally from Reich-ian repetition to modern straight-eighth time feels, Phillips also taps into the jazz continuum, setting up spirited solos by Kono, Willis, guitarist Amanda Monaco, vibraphonist Tom Beckham, pianist Deanna Witkowski, trumpeter Dave Smith and violinist Skye Steele.

In Phillips' writing one can sense the impact of Maria Schneider's large-band innovations, her expansive tonal vocabulary most of all. And given that Pat Metheny is a fellow Steve Reich devotee, it's fitting that Vipassana can call to mind the Pat Metheny in one of its darker, more abstract moods. But Phillips arrives at an imaginative gestalt of his own, transforming poetry by Denise Levertov into melodically poignant lyrics, sung first by Julie Hardy and later by all the vocalists together. "God's flight circles us," they repeat, as Vipassana fades away in a rain of jangling percussion.

Track Listing: Of Climbing Heaven and Gazing on the Earth; Stillness Flows Ever Changing; Into all the Valleys Evening Journeys; The Nothingness that is the Source of Everything.

Personnel: Ben Kono, Dan Willis, Ed Xiques: woodwinds; David Smith: trumpet; Deborah Weisz: trombone; Tom Beckham, Michael Pinto: vibraphones; Amanda Monaco, Sebastian Noelle: electric guitars; Deanna Witkowski, Brenda Earle: pianos; Peter Wise, Luke Notary: percussion; Charenee Wade, Amy Cervini, Sofia Koutsovitis, Julie Hardy, Monika Heidemann: voices; Ana Milosavljevic, Skye Steele: violins; Orlando Wells, Joshua Davidowitz: violas; Jody Redhage, Lauren Riley-Rigby: cellos; Thomson Kneeland: bass; Joseph C. Phillips Jr.: conductor/composer.

Title: Vipassana | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Innova Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To CD/LP/Track Review
You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 24, 2018
Read We Out Here CD/LP/Track Review
We Out Here
by Chris May
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Best of the Bootlegs 2017 CD/LP/Track Review
Best of the Bootlegs 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read The Asylum Years CD/LP/Track Review
The Asylum Years
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Solo Contra CD/LP/Track Review
Solo Contra
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read "Two in a Box" CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You" CD/LP/Track Review For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Affirmative" CD/LP/Track Review Affirmative
by Jim Olin
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Mogoya" CD/LP/Track Review Mogoya
by James Nadal
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "80 Years" CD/LP/Track Review 80 Years
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by John Sharpe
Published: October 12, 2017