Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Phil Collins 8: A Hot Night In Paris

By the end of the century, it was easy to forget that Phil Collins was once a respected drummer, and not just in rock or prog. He dabbled in fusion jazz with Brand X in the late ‘70s, but another 20 years went by before he flung himself into more traditional jazz.
A Hot Night In Paris is credited to The Phil Collins Big Band, and that’s what it is: a live recording by a large combo influenced by those of Buddy Rich and Duke Ellington. The repertoire draws mostly from the more familiar Collins and Genesis hits of recent years, and there are absolutely no vocals. Phil plays drums, Daryl Steurmer is on guitar, Luis Conte assists on percussion, Brad Cole from his last album plays piano, somebody we’ve never heard of is on bass, and sixteen guys make up the horn section.
There’s no mistaking “Sussudio”, but the rest of the arrangements aren’t as obvious. “That’s All” is a little harder to guess, “Invisible Touch” is way subdued, and “Hold On My Heart” is slowed down to a crawl with the slightest attention to the melody. “I Don’t Care Anymore” is completely stripped of its signature drum pattern, relying instead on flashy film noir accents, reminiscent of ‘50s detective shows, rendering it virtually parodic. Gerald Albright takes the spotlight for his own “Chips & Salsa”, which isn’t the most satisfying appetizer to these ears, sorry to say.
“Milestones” is the Miles Davis tune, on which jazz guys love to stretch, and they do, whereas the easy-listening take on “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” is the closest to the record everyone knows. Luckily, the set closes with two lengthy surprises. First, the Average White Band’s “Pick Up The Pieces”, with George Duke on piano, James Carter on sax, and Arif Mardin conducting, is always a crowd-pleaser, even for twelve minutes. Then Phil plays a short solo to kick off “The Los Endos Suite”, which reprises the closing track from A Trick Of The Tail, detouring to Buenos Aires for a few vamps, eventually returning to the “Squonk” theme so Daryl can let loose.
With the exception of those last two, most of the tunes that work best on A Hot Night In Paris are the ones that aren’t as recognizable from their hit single versions. Jazz purists may scoff, but those predisposed to despising Phil Collins might be as pleasantly surprised as they are tolerant.

The Phil Collins Big Band A Hot Night In Paris (1999)—3

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