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Mike Phillips: You Have Reached Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips brings a fresh, original sax voice to his solo outing You Have Reached Mike Phillips (Hidden Beach), a stylish outing incorporating rugged shades of R&B, bebop and hip-hop in a lyrical whole. Where many contemporaries are content to tack on a house groove or funky bass line to standard smooth-jazz fare and call it “hip-bop,” Phillips’ picks his textures carefully-using prickly melodic hits against pathos-inducing Rhodes work for a real street-scene flavor on “Stop What Ya Doin’,” for example. “Just One Take” finds Phillips bopping and railing on alto across a knuckling rhythm and soulful keyboards, while “Tonite” mines pure funk, with horn harmonies shimmering and plucky bass beating a solid foundation. Phillips lets his tunes breathe and develop, with spaces as important as the notes on the swirling, string-laden romance “Will You Stick With Me,” and the warm yet dark-shaded “Maria.” The sax man’s distinctive presence is perhaps shown most clearly on “Love Is a Drug,” which in lesser hands could have been reduced to standard boudoir fare. Phillips gives the piece a sly sophistication with a strong rhythmic base and cool trumpet to counter his straight-up sax work, played with a muscular yet easygoing style.

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