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CD Review: Flip Phillips-Your Place or Mine?

Flip Phillips – Tenor saxophone and bass clarinet.

Dell Staton – Guitar and bass

Saxophonist Flip Phillips gained fame as a member of clarinetist Woody Herman’s Herd and producer Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic ensembles. Phillips, however, also performed in variety of styles in small groups and recorded prolifically with them well into his 80s. Delmark’s reissue of Your Place or Mine is a series of duets from 1963 with guitarist Dell Staton originally released on the Jump label.

The album consists of a dozen standards and a single Phillips original the stimulating “With Someone New”. Through the entire date Staton and Phillips exhibit exemplary synergy as they overlap their individual instrumental voices with vibrancy and subtle charm. On the tender “Just Say I Love Her” the musicians take turns embellishing the main theme with wistful sensuality. Staton’s strums bring a Spanish touch to the tune.

On the upbeat “Gone with the Wind” Phillips and Staton anticipate each other’s lines fusing their solos with suave elegance. The engaging piece maintains a light-hearted touch without being frivolous. While the whimsical “Scatterbrain” showcases the pair’s matching virtuosities at a thrilling fast tempo.

Phillips exhibits his signature style on both bass clarinet and tenor saxophone. His warm, muscular sound marks the emotive and lyrical improvisation on the memorable “Come Rain or Come Shine”. He embellishes the captivating “Nuages” with eloquence and intelligence. Staton makes his strings echo evocatively both when he is in the spotlight and while he is supporting Phillips.

Indeed, Staton’s playing is one of the delightful surprises of the disc. Underexposed and underappreciated, the inventive Staton coaxes resonant, harp like tones out of his guitar on such tracks as “It's The Talk Of The Town”. His crystalline cascade of notes adds a romantic shimmer to “Chloe” while, on the energetic “Jazz Me Blues” he utilizes organ pedals to make the bass lines reverberate.

Like most of Jump’s catalogue, the reappearance of this rare session is a welcome event. And because of its uniqueness, it is also an intriguing addition to Phillips’ discography.

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