Those experienced and passionate music lovers who have been fortunate enough to hear pre-release copies of the uniquely gifted vocalist-pianist-composer-arranger Marty Phillip’s extraordinary CD, “Somewhere in Time” have exclaimed: “How could I not have heard someone with a voice and other musical talents this impressive before now?”.
This mystery deepens in considering his extensive and impressive performing career over the past 30+ years. This includes work with acknowledged vocal and instrumental masters such as Carmen McRae, Grady Tate, Johnny Hartman (who he served as pianist and musical director), Al Cohn, Frank Wess, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quartet and Art Farmer among many others.
He’s played in most of the well known New York clubs and concert venues, including serving as the house band at the Blue Note, with stellar horn men often sitting in. In recent years, his focus has been on producing, and other music-related activities, including education.
First time listeners will first be enormously impressed by the gorgeously rich, but relaxed timbre of his extraordinary vocal instrument. He immediately invokes pleasant memories of Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine, Arthur Prysock and other well known mellow baritone stylists of the past. However, one also quickly appreciates his own expressive passion, flawless intonation, clarity and the exquisite taste in his phrasing and delivery. In addition to the masterful singing, his own piano and synthesizer accompaniment and arrangements must be applauded. The buoyantly uplifting support of the other band members includes soulfully sensitive tenor saxophonist Houston Person and the versatile and dynamic drummer Grady Tate, as well as renowned bassist Rufus Reid, all veterans of thousands of recording sessions and live events, world wide for many decades.
A complete review of the CD also yields solid admiration for his engaging song selection. He balances timelessly melodic gems from some of the Great American Songbook legends like Rogers & Hart, Johnny Burke & Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne, with creatively modern classics by Billy Eckstine, Tadd Dameron, Bobby Timmons and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Lastly, his own haunting composition of the title track, “Somewhere in Time” moves one to wonder whether there is any limit to the breadth of this special artist.
• “The most striking characteristic about Somewhere in Time is a very polished, but unpretentious vocal timbre, which is densely rich and resonant, without being overly dark. The professionally clear enunciation, with sensitive, assured and refreshingly relaxed phrasing also stands out. One can only imagine how popular a flawlessly tasteful and credible crooner-pianist like Phillips, with his dynamic, yet refined jazz sensibility, would have been in the 1940-1950s, when the public’s appetite was informed by a more discerning ability to appreciate musical quality”.