All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

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 Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Sunlight CD/LP/Track Review
Sunlight
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Fullmoon CD/LP/Track Review
Fullmoon
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Arise! CD/LP/Track Review
Arise!
by Chris May
Published: April 24, 2018
Read "We Are" CD/LP/Track Review We Are
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 1, 2018
Read "Organ Monk Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk Blue
by Jerome Wilson
Published: January 13, 2018
Read "Early to Late" CD/LP/Track Review Early to Late
by John Eyles
Published: March 29, 2018
Read "Origin Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Origin Suite
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 5, 2018
Read "Hanukkah" CD/LP/Track Review Hanukkah
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "TITOK" CD/LP/Track Review TITOK
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 14, 2017