LISTEN TO JACK PHILLIPS ON APPLE MUSIC
Going Track by Track – Night & Day (2020) by Jack
It's important to understand that the Night & Day album
was originally conceived in 2012 as a combination two styles that I really like: blues rock or the blues in general, and also
the sounds of jazz standards and particularly New Orleans jazz.
In 2009 I had written “The Old Grey Hat” and I knew that it
was going to be on a future album at some point, but I didn't quite have any
idea at that point what to do with it, and it hadn't been recorded yet. In 2012 I decided that I would record that
song and some other songs that I would write in the jazz style and present them
together as original jazz standards. I then
decided that I would give the whole project a New York City theme, and so as a
lead song to this project I sat down in early 2012 and wrote the first track on
the album called “I Love New York.”
Before this I had in my archives several songs that Jimmy
Russell and I had written which were perfect for this project. The first thing I did was go to Nola Recording
Studio in Manhattan (which at the time was located in the top floor penthouse
of the Steinway building on West 57th Street), and using Errol Garner’s Steinway,
I recorded with Matt Scharfglass on bass
and Dave Silliman on drums the basic tracks for “I love New York,” “Ragin’ Down
On Me,” “No One's Home” and “No More Waitin’.”
At the time I thought the songs might be fine with a stripped-down sound
of simply piano, bass and drum. But at
some point, I got the idea that the songs really need a guitar. I had
been in touch with legendary guitarist Caleb Quaye at around the same time and
eventually put it together in my mind that I would love to have him perform on
these songs. I got in touch with Caleb, and he happily
agreed to record with me. I flew out to
Burbank, California and met him at a studio called the Jungle Room Studios, and
in a very short amount of time Caleb laid down all over the guitar work for those
four tracks. Those songs were put together very quickly in
Turning to the jazz
side of my project, the Americans jazz standards originals that I wanted to
write, I put pen to paper and wrote a bunch of lyrics by myself which I
normally don't do, but I had ideas in my mind about the kind of things that I
wanted to sing about and most of it had to do with New York City and the old
fashioned black and white glamorous New York that you'd see in the movies. With
some of those lyrics in hand, I got together with Conal Fowkes, a pianist known
for performing with Woody Allen. He and I went to a piano room at the Kaufman
Music Center and there we created the melody for “I've Got Sophistication Too.” I had a basic melody in mind at least for the
first line or two of the song, and Conal would play along and help me figure
out the chord changes that led to the next melody line and so forth. Conal performed two functions for me: he played jazz which I have no proficiency in
whatsoever, and he helped me formulate the melodies for these jazz songs by
suggesting chord changes that I would not have come up with myself. I found this extremely helpful. That first song practically wrote itself in a
matter of minutes and we decided to meet the following week to work on another
song. Meanwhile, Conal had talked to the
great Eddy Davis, band leader for Woody Allen about what we were working
on. Eddy was a larger-than-life man who
loved to compose music and who probably wrote a song every day…. He really loved
the idea of what we were doing but he had some advice for me which was simply
that I was making a mistake trying to mix my Blues Rock with these beautiful
jazz songs that I was coming up with. He
thought that I would have two distinct audiences, neither of which would like half
of the album. He convinced me that it
was in my best interest to create an entire album of original American jazz
With that in mind, I set about writing more lyrics, fleshing
out the lyrical content of the album to be created and wanted Eddy to produce
it for me. Conal and I continued to
collaborate on a few more songs and Eddy also got involved writing melodies for
several songs using my lyrics.
Eddy created lead sheets for the musicians for all ten songs
that we had written and after one day of rehearsal, we met at Nola and recorded
the basic tracks for the entire album.
Conal went back to overdub some strings, vibes, and horns, but that album
which was released in 2012 called Café Nights in New York was written, recorded,
mixed, and mastered within a few weeks.
With album artwork the whole project took about two months. This was novel considering that my older
material took years to create. Live
recording was the way to go.
In 2017 I released the blues rock album of material recorded
just prior to Café Nights. Instead of
recording more blues material, I added some live recordings of new blues
material that has never been recorded in the studio. That album was called Down in the Jungle
Room, a reference to where Caleb recorded the guitars.
Last year I decided that I really did want to put together the
album I originally intended in 2012. To
do so I gathered all the material from Café Nights where I wrote the melody
with help from Conal Fowkes and put them together with the studio recordings
involving Caleb Quaye from Down in the Jungle Room and the resulting
compilation is called Night & Day to represent the two different styles. The album cover is a caricature drawing by Nate
Butler showing me in the evening dressed in a tuxedo looking into the mirror
and seeing myself as how I might look in the daytime more disheveled and more
appropriate for playing Blues Rock. I'm
extremely proud of this compilation album. It's perhaps my best work to date.
As I think about the juxtaposition of these two styles and
the marriage of the songs from two different perspectives, I feel as if the
blues tracks represent the world that one wishes to break free from, the
pressures in life, the relationships gone bad.
The jazz songs represent the Emerald City, where relationships blossom,
the martinis flow and everyone is fashionable.
It’s an album about a journey from where one once lived to finding a
home in New York.
Going track by track
“I Love New York” was the first song I wrote for the
original two-style concept album I wanted to create in 2012. I knew I was going to have a New York theme and
I wanted to have a song about how much I love New York. Lyrically
it's just a simple story about a guy who, like me, has travelled around and
finally found a home in New York.
“I've Got Sophistication Too” is a jazz song intended to
convey that wonderfully sophisticated New York scene that you might see in old black
and white movies with images of old New York where martinis flow in the
“Ragin’ Down on Me” is a Jimmy Russell lyric about the
pressures of life.
“The Old Grey Hat” was written by me with Woody Allen in
mind. In two of Woody's films, he
references “the gray hat” or “the gray hat of compromise.” It is referenced in Husbands and Wives and in Shadows
and Fog. I wrote the lyric with Woody knowing that he
is uncompromising in his artistry; I imagined a time when woody might decide
that if he must compromise it's time to hang it up. So, this is my little tribute to Woody, a true
“No One's Home” is another Jimmy Russell lyric about giving
up on a relationship.
“Let's Drink to Us” is my jazz song about an old-fashioned
romance in Manhattan.
“Take Them to Manhattan” is a song about the world of
fashion that you see in Manhattan, my tribute to the fashion industry.
“No More Waitin’” is always a favorite song of mine to play. It is about giving up waiting for a
relationship to flourish.
“Down in the Jungle Room” is a fun instrumental that Caleb
and I wrote when we had a little extra time at the Jungle Room studio in
Burbank. I'm really pleased with how it
came out. it's a lot of fun to listen to
and it makes me wish Caleb and I could do more of that together. He was a joy to work with, a man with a
mentoring gentle spirit and a real gentleman.
I’m proud to call him my friend.
de blues y bastante smooth jazz? Sin duda sería éste álbum en el que el cantante y pianista
Jack Phillips combina estos tres elementos musicales, además de plasmar la atmósfera
cosmopolita que siempre se respira en las calles, los restaurantes y los clubs de Manhattan para,
de este modo, ofrecer a todo el público un trabajo sofisticado, elegante y desarrollado
con mucha clase. Nacido en el seno de una familia musical, desde muy joven
Jack empezó a tocar el piano, dedicándose también a la composición con un buen manejo
de las armonías y los arreglos. Este trabajo presenta nueve canciones perfectamente
construidas bajo el denominador común de la calidad, en las que sobre todo priman
la perfección y el detalle a partes iguales, que se apartan de la tristeza, el desasosiego,
la negatividad, la desesperación y la angustia que la pandemia está produciendo en todos
nosotros para conducirnos a un nuevo mundo en el que la esperanza, la armonía, el buen
gusto y la creatividad reinan en todas y cada una de las canciones que dan vida a este
“Night & Day”. Junto a un plantel de buenos músicos, Jack Phillips nos presenta un álbum
bastante diferente a lo que estamos acostumbrados a escuchar, pero cuya calidad nadie podrá
negar que inmediatamente llamará la atención del oyente. MUY BUENO.
What would be the result of mixing some Elton John's songs with a little bit of blues and a good dose
of smooth jazz? Certainly the result is this new album, where singer and piano player
Jack Phillips combines these three musical elements, but he also captures the cosmopolitan
atmosphere one can always breathe in Manhattan streets, restaurants and clubs to, in this way,
give listeners a sophisticated and elegant album developed with an undeniable class.
Born in a musical family, Jack began to play piano when he was only a teenager, as well as starting
to write songs with a good command in music harmonies and arrangements.
The album gathers nine songs, build up with the common denominator of quality, where
the search for perfection and detail care prevail in equal parts, songs that move away
from the sadness, unease, negativity, despair and anger pandemic is bringing us to drive
listeners to a new world where hope, harmony, good taste and creativity prevail in every song
included in this recording entitled "Night & Day". Together with a good line-up of good musicians,
Jack Phillips presents a quite different album from the ones we are used to listen to,
but gifted with an undeniable quality that will immediately catch your attention. VERY GOOD.