Phil Collins just can't seem to stay away from big bands. But this new, brassy collection of tunes, including his "Sussudio," "I Don't Care Anymore" and "Against All Odds," probably won't please fans of his singing, since Collins remains vocally silent behind his drums. To his credit, he does a workmanlike job of propelling an 18-piece ensemble, his crisp, hard-hitting style strongly reminiscent of Buddy Rich, clearly his primary inspiration.
There's also some fine soloing--especially from saxophonist Gerald Albright (on "Against All Odds"), tenor saxophonists Chris Collins and Larry Panella, and fluegelhornist and music director Harry Kim. But it remains for saxophonist James Carter--in "Pick Up the Pieces"--to come up with a roaring, honking, screaming solo that brings some needed urgency to the otherwise carefully crafted performances.
That's what's missing here. Well-articulated big band playing isn't all that hard to find; passionate playing is.
The real stars of this collection, in fact, are the arrangers--especially John Clayton Jr., but also Sammy Nestico, Mike Barone, Kim, David Stout and Arif Mardin--who have brought the lifeblood of jazz to tunes mostly gestated from a pop music perspective. And given the circumstances, it wouldn't have hurt for Collins to have tossed in a few vocals.
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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.calendarlive.com/soundclips