- may - june 2008 | cadence |
I can’t say the same for (3) Sam Phipps’ re-release
of the obscure
1980 Animal Sounds. Nothing is superfluous, not even the bonus cuts
from a 1982 radio broadcast, which are very nice. Who is Sam Phipps?
He may be best known as a reedman in the ‘80s New Wave Rock
Oingo Boingo. That music has little to do with this recording, however.
He is a hard-blowing, big tenorist. Clearly Coltrane has influenced
him. He also reminds of early Sonny Simmons and Bert Wilson for
intensity and fire he brings to the group. John Larkin has pianism
abundance, with obvious influences in Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner.
The rhythm section churns and drives with sincerity and dedication.
Dissonant late Tyner comping from Larkin sets off Phipps’
playing on the opening “Elevation.” Larkin’s solo
burns brightly as well.
The free ballad “Mystery” brings in Larkin’s Cecilish
Phipps sounds like an earthy, less tightly embouchured Coltrane.
to a rhapsodic froth that asserts originality within the eclectic
framework invoked. An out-of-time, slightly dissonant rubato with
of cymbals and long tenor lines mark “Decision.” “One
On One” follows
with a bass-tenor duet. Young’s mid-up walking sets up Phipps’
which in turn deftly explores out Freebop phrasings, with just a
hint of a
Sam Rivers tone.
A nice change of pace follows with the multi-tracked “Animal
Sounds.” It’s all Phipps in a sax quintet. Soprano,
alto, tenor, baritone
and bass saxes take a freely articulated romp through avenues of
valent aural fun. The album proper ends with solo tenor in a tribute
the great Ben Webster. The latter-penned “Woke Up Clipped”
forms a bit
of a tour de force for Sam’s rapidly moving lines and then
snaky melody played with respect and charm. Ben was such a giant
Sam shows his appreciation.
The remaining tracks come from a 1982 radio broadcast and feature
Phipps with Larkin and in a solo mode. It is all quite nice. “Silent
(yes, the Christmas song) is given a quite beautiful treatment,
stated lyrically by Phipps with a Tyner-like piano wash underneath.
tainly wasn’t aware of this recording until now and its reissue
of the highlights of what I’ve heard for the new year thus
far. It’s a little
out, and it is a little classic. Snag it now. These sorts of re-releases
always stay around long.
Grego Applegate Edwards
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