Simon Phillips

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Simon Phillips B-Sides - The Rarities

Heys guys

This thread's for the fans of the muli-styles talented super session drummer Simon Phillips who has recorded with hundreds of artists in almost any styles of music.

The idea of this thread is to show and share some of Simon's little gems and treasures through his, sometimes, not so well know brilliant work via the mean of videos, mp3, mp4 etc.

I have followed Simon's career from 1980, I eventually went back to the start of his session work from 1974.

So please post your videos and mp3 of Simon's rare or forgotten recordings here on this thread. I'll be delighted to discover "new" tracks I didn't know about.


So here's the first 4 links to start this thread with some magic grooves from the Man:

Sunshine of Your Love by Toto from Through The Looking Glass, I know it's not really a rarity, but it's a special one for Andy, I know he loves to play this track :))

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjaYkRO9Bsg

Behind your Dark Eyes by Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake, Alaska) from Look at Me Know (1981). A lovely 16th notes feel in this groove...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU3J3FEkcL4&feature=related

Camino Real by Duncan Brown from The Wild Places (1978), a very young Simon on this track, with John Giblin on bass (later in the 80's he played for Simple Minds).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKpDxJvKCCI

Head The Ball by Bernie Marsden (again) from And About Time Too (1979), dream rythm section here, Jack Bruce and Simon, phheeww!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_9zriz_wRE

Enjoy!

And if you have an anecdote about Simon, tell us the story...

And please post some vids :))
 

Roger//

Junior Member
Very unique style with heads and tuning.
If you heard him soundcheck, sounds little too high when someone else plays.
But... when Simon sits down... mg!
Tried clear Ambassadors on my bassdrum. Sounds great. Just one problem for me...
Far less control over my playing, becouse the head is moving so much....

great drummer, one of my favs!
 

jivadayadasa

Senior Member
IMO a thread about Simon Phillips isn't complete without mentioning his work on 801 Live with Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno.

His power, energy, tightness and speed was awesome on East of Asteroid (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39eHgk5b1Ek) from that album, which was a mashup of Phil's East of Echo and Quiet Sun's Mummy Was an Asteroid, Daddy Was a Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil (yes, that's what it was called :)

It's hard not to like a guy who can not only do the "herd of stampeding elephants" double kick thing and super smooth grace notes.

As a side note, Quiet Sun was an experimental project of Phil M's while he was still with Roxy and featured the excellent Charles Hayward on kit and Bill McCormack on bass.
OMG! This was one of the albums that got me drumming way back when. Stunning finesse and power - I was just listening to this the other day with an old friend (TNK). I am so glad you mentioned this - thank you!

I have been working on some grooves that are inspired by Simon's playing. It has got me open-handed and like a fish out of water... I really like when he plays an ostinato on the hat with left hand, accents around toms w/ right hand, then seamlessly switches to right hand on hat (same exact ostinato), left accenting drums to the left of his hat.

I am trying to develop my weaker side (left) and use some of his sticking. It's like deep tissue massage: painful to do but I like how I feel afterwards.
 

pbloxam

Senior Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

I believe Simon started out in his fathers Big Band and later moved on....

Therefore, early on, he was playing big band music, some jazz and his early infuences are all jazz related...

The performance on the video was excellent in my opinion...

While I am not fond of his association with Babko as it takes away from his monstrous playing...

I have most of Simon's solo stuff, with Beck, Priest, Toto, members of the Who, instructional DVD's, etc...

The guys on hundreds of albums....

One of my favorite players of all time..Just saw him play with Greg Howe, Eddie Jobson, Trey Gunn, and Marco Minneman on duel drums!!!!

Amazing!!!!

The guy can play anything with authority!!! I watched them tear up Mahavishnu material as though it was a cakewalk!!!!

Yeah, he can jazz it too!!!!
 
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Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

He is a very musical player and he knows to surround himself with great players, Anthony Jackson here. He is a great fusion drummer and certainly looks like he is having a good time on this clip.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

What can I say guys? I checked this thread out after being away for a day, expecting maybe 1 or 2 extra replies and I find this!! Thanks for putting some energy into the debate. I've certainly learnt a lot from the guys here with a sound knowledge of jazz. I asked the question because I felt hugely under qualified to satisfy my own intrigue. In my very poorly informed opinion, the performance left me a bit cold. He didn't nail it as a rock player nor did he approch the piece with the syncopation and avoidance of first beat in the bar accent I'd expected. Don't get me wrong here, a whole ton better than I could achieve but not up to the usual Phillips innovation approach. Take his playing with his band, Protocol http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H0tm-Hs9qo from 92. For most rock drummers, a really uncomfortable departure, yet he performed this with a certainty of purpose. That clarity of direction is missing on the jazz piece we're discussing. A sort of "on the fence" performance. I'm no good at analyzing the finer defining points of this feeling, it's just the vibe I pick up.

I've seen Simon many times. Unless you've seen him live, it's almost impossible to appreciate the power, dynamics and musicallity of this man. I can honestly say I've never been as impressed by any other player live as I have by Simon Phillips. This one just misses the mark for me, as does the latest PSP stuff I've heard to date, oh so clever but devoid of passion.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

You can also watch this clip of the Vantage performance in which Simon discusses his upbringing in playing jazz in his dad's band in England. He does have a history in jazz and wide, deep set of experience in playing styles, just different from many of the American masters (Philly Joe, Shadow, Roy, Elvin, etc.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcQTKi0ID38

Obviously, Simon can play jazz, and this piece demonstrates that he can play it quite well and with some flair, as, I think, Steamer noted.

His kind of jazz playing reminds me of Bill Bruford's in Earthworks: very good, very accomplished, but different than players who immerse themselves fully in the tradition (e.g., when you listen to Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Herbie, Joshua Redman, etc., and hear the drummers there). As others have noted, Simon (and Bill) has extensive experience as a rock/fusion drummer, even though he (and Bill) started with jazz and had jazz as one of his first inspirations.

I think what's really at heart here is immersion. From my experience in teaching and research (in humanities, not music), if you want to really learn something well and do it well, then immersion is necessary--at least for most of us. Whether it is literary study, science, math, philosophy, a style of music, I think you must put in your time to inhabit the space of your field of study/interest. The more you do this, the better your chance at getting a deeper knowledge of your subject, and the easier it becomes for you to call upon such skills when needed.

Players like Blakey, Elvin, Haynes and most other greats mainly spent their entire careers mastering jazz and forging new directions in jazz. They were not playing rock sessions or fusion sessions or pop sessions. Not even Tony's hybrid Lifetime stuff is really rock, in my opinion; it is still heavily jazz oriented. A player like Simon has a bit of the Renaissance man about him, in a way: he can play a massive variety of styles extremely well, but by doing this perhaps he sacrifices time and focus. He is a solid all-around player, but, because of this focus, he will probably always have a hard time playing jazz at a deeper or more sophisticated level. This is not a criticism of him or his playing--it is just a simple observation of where a player has chosen to invest her or his time and energy. You can have a jazz player who has spent 40 years in jazz, while Simon has spent equal time mainly playing rock/fusion with some jazz and other styles mixed in. Will the jazz player sound different when it comes to jazz? Yes, because in this example the jazz player has a lot more focused experienced in a style. Whether people want to label that difference as "authentic," etc., is up to them, I suppose.

Note: I will qualify my immersion argument by noting that if you don't learn how to study well and smartly, then there is a good chance that progression will not happen. Immersion, by itself, doesn't guarantee growth and mastery. Hence why we all benefit from good teachers (Alan Dawson, Ed Soph, Gary Chaffe, etc.)!

As for the point about the sound of Simon's playing, I think that has more to do with the fact that he's got clear heads on his Starclassic Maples and doesn't appear to have his bass or toms tuned to the usual high bop pitch. Tune up a bit and put coated heads on the drums, and they'll sound different.

I will add, as a side note, I'm glad to see Eric Harland's name mentioned in this thread. He is a phenomenal jazz player. I think he and Matt Wilson represent some of the best playing in jazz today: steeped in history but pushing forward at the same time, with fun experimentation.
Great post and perceptive comments as always I hear coming from you Robert.

If he intented to play more straight and square well the rest of the seasoned jazz musicians on the clip in the band were playing more open and rounded being more buoyant and syncopated in their comping, phrasing and soloing off the jazz tradition then I agree that I missed his musical intention and point of reference he was after. If on the other hand he was trying to replicate the vibe of the mid 90's Tony band which I think was his intent I hear coming from the overall direction of the performance his concept he didn't quite secure the same level of full intent of all the required jazz drumming elements in the same musical basket to hit the complete home run Tony did doing the same music night after night containing the same fusion of elements in primarily a jazz based ensemble setting.

Listen to what Eric Harland or Brian Blade can do within the same post Bop idiom as seen in the clip which to me has them more connected to a more complete jazz concept going on with other musicians on stage. If Simon intended to seperate the two concepts of playing happening at the same time within the music that's certainly his choice but it doesn't sound as effective to my ears as everybody on stage being on the same {jazz} page.

Anyway its all positive because in its own way having a chap of this stature taking a stab at this kind of music might attract more younger players currently sitting on the fence about listening to or liking jazz to take a deeper look at the complete history of the music... which of coarse is a good thing in my view.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Why should I go see him play? That is the question. There are so many great players out there without the name. I'd like to hear a little more of that free style in the beginning of the clip you shared on the previous one. The interview really isn't interesting to me. I've heard Simon speak before and he doesn't much that interests me.

You do need to immerse yourselves in the tradition to really do something with the music, and I am wondering if this is what Simon Phillips is focused on now. But even as such, I think what Steamer and I were concerned about is that on this particular track, it seemed that there is much going on musically that the drummer is not a part of and that two and four in the HH actually gets annoying after a while. It seems that about hald way through the time needs to start to relax and he keeps driving it.

Part of the sound/dynamic problem is the drum set; it's a hybrid maple-bubinga, isn't it? It's loud. He even has a screen. I really don't want to go see a jazz player who plays behind a screen. Does that sound silly? Should it really?
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

You can also watch this clip of the Vantage performance in which Simon discusses his upbringing in playing jazz in his dad's band in England. He does have a history in jazz and wide, deep set of experience in playing styles, just different from many of the American masters (Philly Joe, Shadow, Roy, Elvin, etc.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcQTKi0ID38

Obviously, Simon can play jazz, and this piece demonstrates that he can play it quite well and with some flair, as, I think, Steamer noted.

His kind of jazz playing reminds me of Bill Bruford's in Earthworks: very good, very accomplished, but different than players who immerse themselves fully in the tradition (e.g., when you listen to Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Herbie, Joshua Redman, etc., and hear the drummers there). As others have noted, Simon (and Bill) has extensive experience as a rock/fusion drummer, even though he (and Bill) started with jazz and had jazz as one of his first inspirations.

I think what's really at heart here is immersion. From my experience in teaching and research (in humanities, not music), if you want to really learn something well and do it well, then immersion is necessary--at least for most of us. Whether it is literary study, science, math, philosophy, a style of music, I think you must put in your time to inhabit the space of your field of study/interest. The more you do this, the better your chance at getting a deeper knowledge of your subject, and the easier it becomes for you to call upon such skills when needed.

Players like Blakey, Elvin, Haynes and most other greats mainly spent their entire careers mastering jazz and forging new directions in jazz. They were not playing rock sessions or fusion sessions or pop sessions. Not even Tony's hybrid Lifetime stuff is really rock, in my opinion; it is still heavily jazz oriented. A player like Simon has a bit of the Renaissance man about him, in a way: he can play a massive variety of styles extremely well, but by doing this perhaps he sacrifices time and focus. He is a solid all-around player, but, because of this focus, he will probably always have a hard time playing jazz at a deeper or more sophisticated level. This is not a criticism of him or his playing--it is just a simple observation of where a player has chosen to invest her or his time and energy. You can have a jazz player who has spent 40 years in jazz, while Simon has spent equal time mainly playing rock/fusion with some jazz and other styles mixed in. Will the jazz player sound different when it comes to jazz? Yes, because in this example the jazz player has a lot more focused experienced in a style. Whether people want to label that difference as "authentic," etc., is up to them, I suppose.

Note: I will qualify my immersion argument by noting that if you don't learn how to study well and smartly, then there is a good chance that progression will not happen. Immersion, by itself, doesn't guarantee growth and mastery. Hence why we all benefit from good teachers (Alan Dawson, Ed Soph, Gary Chaffe, etc.)!

As for the point about the sound of Simon's playing, I think that has more to do with the fact that he's got clear heads on his Starclassic Maples and doesn't appear to have his bass or toms tuned to the usual high bop pitch. Tune up a bit and put coated heads on the drums, and they'll sound different.

I will add, as a side note, I'm glad to see Eric Harland's name mentioned in this thread. He is a phenomenal jazz player. I think he and Matt Wilson represent some of the best playing in jazz today: steeped in history but pushing forward at the same time, with fun experimentation.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

To suggest that we should accept his playing on face value because he is a name is to suggest that we use no aesthetic judgment of our own. That is definitely not a road I am gong to go down. I am not going to say taht everything is value neutral. That is just nonsense.
No one suggested that, Ken. I didn't say or suggest that Simon's performance was innovative or that everyone must enjoy it because it's The Great Simon Phillips. It's just that I didn't relate to the blanket statement you made in general because I don't relate to blanket statements. I thought you'd be ok about qualifying it. If you missed my point then I'm sorry for not making myself clear.

As for crossing of bar lines, lots of non-jazzers use the device at times. Even I do it because "unsquaring" can keep a passage or transition from sounding stiff. If I'm familiar with the concept then Simon certainly is.

Simon may have decided to play the theme squared off as a matter of taste. After all, he's played an awful lot of sessions and probably likes things to be tidy :) Perhaps the issue is that elements of his prog tastes have leaked into his jazz performance? At least he didn't play double-kick 16ths ...
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

This type of a discussion quickly becomes an exercise in futility because people don't understand the fundamental concept that if he were doing something innovative he would be taking the style to a new level. But what he is doing is routine.
And what's wrong with that? Nobody has said that SImon Phillips is an innovative jazz drummer.
I mean really now. Who's such an innovative jazz drummer? You? Do you play nothing that could be considered routine? If so I'd very much like to hear you play sometime.
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

But not in music, MFB. My understanding is that he was an art guy before starting up with Roxy.
Talk to Eno and he is surprised that anyone actually takes his art seriously as music.
This type of a discussion quickly becomes an exercise in futility because people don't understand the fundamental concept that if he were doing something innovative he would be taking the style to a new level. But what he is doing is routine. I think Phillips is a great drummer and if playing in this style is his project, he will develop it quite well. I am sure he knows the style well; but I would need to see an example of him playing doing something with it before I am going to respect his interpretation of it. To suggest that we should accept his playing on face value because he is a name is to suggest that we use no aesthetic judgment of our own. That is definitely not a road I am gong to go down. I am not going to say taht everything is value neutral. That is just nonsense.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Yes, he was, but that doesn't make him musically naive. Far from it. You ought to read the 'Ambient Manifesto' in the front of 'Music for Airports'. There are a number of other works out there, I have a compilation of musical writings for my degree and he is heavily featured. Art guys often understand music far better than musicians - they have the 'outsider edge' and a lot of the thought processes are the same, especially from an aesthetic standpoint. Stockhausen has his parallels with Picasso, Van Gogh with Debussy. The same idea, two different fields.
Great comment, MFB. It deserves its own thread.

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55018
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Yes, he was, but that doesn't make him musically naive. Far from it. You ought to read the 'Ambient Manifesto' in the front of 'Music for Airports'. There are a number of other works out there, I have a compilation of musical writings for my degree and he is heavily featured. Art guys often understand music far better than musicians - they have the 'outsider edge' and a lot of the thought processes are the same, especially from an aesthetic standpoint. Stockhausen has his parallels with Picasso, Van Gogh with Debussy. The same idea, two different fields.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Actually, Eno has a big background in what he does. If you read a few of his articles...
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
As a general rule and when it comes to a prog drummer playing with a group of jazzmen, sure. However, if that principle was absolute then a number of new styles and approaches would not have been be created. Most times naivete is not an asset, but as they say, "Out of the mouths of babes ...". Sometimes intuition and/or soul without a whole lot of historical grounding can lead to interesting approaches.

Punk
Brian Eno
Ornette Coleman
Jackson Pollock
The first bluesmen
Moe Tucker

Sorry if my comment seems too anal, Ken, and I'm aware that the above are exceptions rather than the rule. Just that your statement seems too absolute and blanket to me and would need qualifiers not to jar.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
And you're quite sure that Simon Phillips does not know that history, is that correct?
"Shadow Wilson was dead even before this style emerged." Umm..we are talking about Shadow Wilson, right? Are you saying that he died too soon to be aquainted with over the bar line syncopated playing?
Maybe you need to brush up on your history of that style, because what he plays on "Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" sounds pretty convincing to me.
 
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Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Yes, they would. Shadow Wilson was dead even before this style emerged. Pete LaRocca plays in this style. Stan, can play in this style and has been for decades. I have been studying and playing in this style for a few years now and listening to it all my life. It's not rocket science. If someone is being innovative, then there is innovation. If someone is not, then there is no innovation. it is exactly as Stan said, if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Re: Can Simon play jazz?

How do I know that he hasn't studied post-bop drumming? Because the situation calls for the type of over the bar line syncopated playing that Stan is referencing.
No, you're just saying that it calls for that. Is that a rule, the "over the bar line syncopated" thing? Is everything in jazz drumming played exactly that way and that way only?
Maybe the guy who wrote that song didn't want Phillips to play over the bar line syncopated stuff.
Let's look at it another way. We have the song, the song that Simon Phillips played the drums on, and he played it the way he played. Would any and every "real" jazz drummer play the type of over the bar line syncopation that you're talking about in the way that you mean? Would, say, Ben Riley play it like that, or Shadow Wilson, or Pete La Roca, or Willie Jones? And if they didn't would they also be guilty of not having mastered the "complex jazz ensemble language?"
 
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