Sea Of Tranquility

The Web Source for Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal & Jazz-Fusion
  Search   in       
Main Menu

Phillips, Simon: Protocol 4

Simon Phillips (drums), Greg Howe (guitar), Ernest Tibbs (bass), and Dennis Hamm (keyboards)...not much needs to be said after seeing that lineup, right? Drum legend Phillips has assembled this stellar cast for this fourth installation of the Protocol series, and it's a highly engaging collection of instrumental jazz-fusion & progressive rock wizardry from all involved.

Things start off in mind-blowing fashion with the '70s fusion/prog inspired "Nimbus", a clear nod to classic UK and Bruford, with Simon's nimble drum patterns, Tibbs' acrobatic bass, Hamm's airy keyboards, and Howe's sizzling, Allan Holdsworth styled guitar lines just dazzling the listener with some sumptuous sounds. "Pentangle" has a slight funk edge but hits hard, like a cross between Return to Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, with lethal work from Howe and plenty of pumping bass courtesy of Tibbs. Funky metal fusion? Somewhat, but it's highly memorable and jaw dropping at the same time, and Hamm adds a lengthy solo to top it all off, doing his best Chick Corea/Jan Hammer impression. World Music meets jazz on the dreamy "Passage to Agra", a track filled with some charming guitar solos from Howe, and the band bring out some serious funk on the groove laden "Solitaire", Phillips & Tibbs digging deep in the pocket on this uptempo burner and Howe & Hamm trading off furious solos. The near 8-minute "Celtic Run" offers up symphonic prog and heavy fusion, the synths commanding, the electric piano tasty, the grooves locked in, and the guitars riffy. Fans of Scott Henderson's Tribal Tech and the Chick Corea Electrik Band will love "All Things Considered", a quirky number with plenty of tasty playing from all four members, while the atmospheric, melodic epic "Phantom Voyage" delivers a wealth of gorgeous keyboard tapestries from Hamm and another mercurial solo from the always impressive Howe. The furious fusion barnburner "Azores" closes things out in fine fashion, Tibbs' bobbing bass lines driving a raucous ensemble performance that is a must hear for any fan of classic '70s jazz-fusion.

Let me just throw it out there- Protocol 4 is an astounding album, easily one of the best jazz-fusion albums I've heard this year, featuring four killer players who have not only knocked it out of the park with their musical brilliance but also delivered an album with memorable songs as well. Essential!!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. Nimbus
2. Pentangle
3. Passage to Agra
4. Solitaire
5. Interlude
6. Celtic Run
7. All Things Considered
8. Phantom Voyage
9. Azores

Added: February 18th 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 1727
Language: english

[ Printer Friendly Page Printer Friendly Page ]
[ Send to a Friend Send to a Friend ]


[ Back to the Reviews Index | Post Comment ]

» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Phillips, Simon: Protocol 4
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-02-17 19:00:42
My Score:

Although he's probably still best know for his long stint drumming with Toto, Simon Phillips has amassed an incredibly diverse and impressive catalogue of work both behind the kit and in the production chair. Arguably however, this percussionist sounds happiest when driving his own solo project on, Protocol 4, the ninth such offering, although, rather obviously, the fourth in the Protocol series. Introducing the inimitable talents of keyboard player Dennis Hamm and renowned guitarist Greg Howe alongside long time bassist Ernest Tibbs, Phillips has gathered a wealth of musical artistry to bring his ideas to life. Written while on tour something the drummer hadn't previously done and that he believes gives this album a tougher edge you can feel the energy and vibe of a working musician pulling out ideas as part of that rough and tumble and ever changing daily routine. And yet this collection of traditional fusion is still smooth, the energy each instrumental number possesses combined to a real sense of flow and structure. Cleverly that structure is loose, fluid and ever changing, each song pulsating through segments where a real upbeat vibe and atmosphere carry things along.

With all that in mind it's no surprise that what really gets Protocol 4's message across is the relaxed virtuosity on show. Not only has Phillips brought together four incredibly talented musicians but the confidence on show breeds a respectful understanding that takes the surging "Pentangle" and makes it into a joyful romp where interplay and collaboration are key. Yes, everyone gets a turn at the front and their moment in the spotlight but even though these ideas came from the drummer, when Howe and Hamm lock in tight on guitar and keys, the results are just irresistible. "Passage To Agra" adds a more enigmatic edge, dancing moods evoking mystical imagery as the drum master weaves a tom pattern and chink of tambourine into a mesmerising journey that proves difficult to resist. "Solitaire" pops and swirls with a more obvious fusion stab, Herbie Hancock leant on for tone and feel, while "Celtic Run" plays a smaller, more intimate game, even if Howe's guitar solo is brutish and brash and still oh so wonderfully controlled. Across the album Hamm often takes proceedings by the scruff of the neck, he may not be at the forefront throughout, space more often given and taken by Tibbs to beat new bass paths, or by Howe to weave his fret mastery and for Phillips to power and punctuate as the mood dictates, yet whether through a killer melody line, dazzling hook or the undercurrent that stabs this album's intentions home, it's Hamm who more often than not plays counterpoint as the themes whirl from one idea to the next.

I have to be honest and say that I've never experienced the solo work of Simon Phillips before, but if the rest of his work is anything like as impressive as Protocol 4, I'm in for a joyous journey of discovery.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
For information regarding where to send CD promos and advertising, please see our FAQ page.
If you have questions or comments, please Contact Us.
Please see our Policies Page for Site Usage, Privacy, and Copyright Policies.

All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all other content Sea of Tranquility

SoT is Hosted by