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May 2001

Simon Phillips/Jeff Babko
Vantage Point
Jazzline

Offering authentic acoustic jazz from a unique Vantage Point (Jazzline JL 1159-2; 59:24) are drummer Simon Phillips and pianist Jeff Babko. Phillips, most widely known as the foundation of pop-rock mega-band Toto, has worked out acclaimed jazz-rock chops over the years. Teaming with the dazzlingly talented Babko, bassist Dave Carpenter and the blistering dual-horn attack of trumpeter Walt Fowler and saxophonist Brandon Fields, Phillips serves up a sound that reveres the masters of '50s and '60s jazz, with the crisp bite of modern production. From the sweet, blithely swinging horn-based feel of "New Blooded," to the wicked film noir sounds of "Miles Away," spotlighting Carpenter's mysterious bass and squinched mute horns, the quintet's sound is vintage-bracing and potent-but with a spacious instrument placement that deposits listeners directly in the club, ringside. The solos stretch, romp and wail, with Fowler's scorching trumpet powering the soulful "Vantage Point," and Phillips offering a huge drum intro to the hard bop of "Bewilderment," for example. A live hyper-fast romp entitled "Spirits of Trane" showcases the band's mind-boggling synchronicity and features some truly inspired sax spirals and squeals that might suggest that actual channeling of these spirits has occurred on this truly transporting effort.

Originally published in May 2001
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