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Phillips, J.: Vipassana

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Customer Reviews

Variations on Classical Minimalist Themes and More

Vipassana is an unapologetic celebration of classical minimalism. Steve Reich (think Desert Music era) and Terry Reilly (In C) enthusiasts will find much to love here. Yet, at first there seems little to distinguish Joseph C. Phillips Jr's work from these composers as well as lesser-known talents such as Marc Mellits, Fulvio Caldini, and many others who've trodden down this well-worn path. Phillips' innovation is the inflections of improvisational jazz found throughout, including the ethereal reverberations of electric guitar on the opening track, or the rough bluster of the trombone on “Into the Valleys Evening Journeys.” While these are welcome additions to the standard patterns of instrumentation and form in minimalist music, I was disappointed that they weren’t more pronounced. That is, until the final track, which amply rewards the listener for the wait (if the first three enjoyable movements could be called that). Within the 20 minutes that comprise “The Nothingness that is the Source of Everything,” much of the percussive elements that drive the first three movements disappear while flute, piano, and violin soar with improvisational flourishes and voices hypnotically chant poetry by Denise Levertov. This is jazz meets minimalism meets western Buddhist mindfulness! Vipassana starts as an unmistakable homage to minimalism, but transforms into something wholly unique by the fourth movement. I cannot recommend this work highly enough and look forward to hearing more from Philips in the future.

Phillips, J.: Vipassana, Numinous
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