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Spanish Eyes (Live)

Kenny Davern & Flip Phillips

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Album Review

This 1975 session, which originally was released as Phillips' Head by Choice, marked Flip Phillips' first date as a leader after a nearly a dozen years, although he had been recording during the period. With pianist Mickey Crane, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Mousie Alexander, Phillips ventures into a mix of vintage and current songs with great results throughout the date. A swinging rendition of "Spanish Eyes," written by easy listening bandleader Bert Kaempfert, became a favorite of the tenor saxophonist. His melodious takes on "This Is All I Ask" and "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)" bring Ben Webster to mind. One surprise is the lively version of Hugo Montenegro's "Jeannie," which is the theme to the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden. He switches to bass clarinet (an instrument on which he excelled but played only occasionally on record dates) for several tracks. He performs an inspired call-and-response duet with Hinton on "Nature Boy," a rather novel approach to a tune that can easily become hackneyed in the wrong hands, with the rest of the group joining him after a couple of choruses. His original blues "Fat Tessie's Ass" is a swinger with a fine solo by Hinton, while his use of the instrument on "Everything Happens to Me" adds to the already morose nature of this classic ballad. This 1997 reissue by Candid adds several alternate takes to this already worthwhile disc.

Spanish Eyes (Live), Kenny Davern & Flip Phillips
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