Simon Phillips/Jeff Babko: Vantage Point

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.