Another Lifetime

Simon Phillips

Magna Carta Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/01/1999

If you are a diehard follower of The Who, the name Simon Phillips will sound familiar; he became the band's third drummer, filling the stool for the group's 1989 reunion tour.

If you're a follower of progressive rock, you know the little New York-based Magna Carta Records as being one of the leaders in its genre, supporting groups that you might not otherwise have heard of.

Put these two together, and you've got... jazz?!? Light jazz?!?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Believe it. On Another Lifetime, Phillips assembles a wonderful team of musicians who bring some of this album's nine cuts to life. And while a few portions of the disc drag, it will be a surprising change of pace for the listener - even if we shouldn't be surprised that Phillips has chosen to go in such a direction.

On this all-instrumental album, Phillips does the wise thing by relegating his role in the group to being part of the backbone, not the in-front leader. For that matter, it would be hard to call any member of this seven-piece group a leader. Each member - guitarists Andy Timmons and Ray Russel, bassist Anthony Jackson, keyboardist Jeff Babko, saxophonist Wendell Brooks and percussionist Peter Michael Escovedo - gets their own opportunity to shine at different junctures on Another Lifetime.

It's around the halfway point of the album, specifically on the track "Kumi Na Moja," that the band snaps into perfect formation, and the music becomes one big groove. It sometimes feels like I'm listening to a group like Spyro Gyra or Weather Report as these songs develop, a feeling that is by no means a negative one. Even if you entered this disc expecting the thunderous rock drumming or spacey progressive rock, you'd be hard pressed to not be moved by these jams.

Yes, it does take a little time for this whole concept to take root with the listener; tracks like "Jungleyes," "Freudian Slip" and "P.O.V.," by no means bad tracks, are periods of adjustment for the listener. Don't be surprised if you feel like you need a quick breather from the disc by the time "Eyes Blue For You" winds down.

Another Lifetime is the kind of disc that is going to get people who wouldn't otherwise listen to "smooth jazz" interested in the genre, for Phillips and his crew do an impressive job with this material. Don't worry if you don't feel like you appreciated it after the first listen; this is the kind of album that has to grow on you.

Rating: B

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.