First Look Video: Mike Phillips serves up “Flava” with top soul vocalists

(April 12, 2020) Saxophonist Mike Phillips made a mark in the early 2000s both as a solo artist on Hidden Beach Records and as a touring member of Prince’s NPG Hornz. While a decade has passed since his last album release, the Mount Vernon native hasn’t lost his touch for lively playing and eclectic arrangements.

(April 12, 2020) Saxophonist Mike Phillips made a mark in the early 2000s both as a solo artist on Hidden Beach Records and as a touring member of Prince’s NPG Hornz. While a decade has passed since his last album release, the Mount Vernon native hasn’t lost his touch for lively playing and eclectic arrangements.

Phillips’ fourth disc, Pulling off the Covers, finds the sought-after player taking on material ranging from the Three’s Company television theme to Slave’s “Watching You.” Revisiting a hip-hop classic in an appealingly jazzy-funky fashion, he offers two interpretations of Craig Mack’s 1994 smash, “Flava in Ya Ear.” While the primarily instrumental take is longer and boasts the likes of none other than Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Trombone Shorty, the Remix is equally exciting in its vocal line-up. Raheem DeVaughn, PJ Morton, Avery*Sunshine, and Naturally 7 deliver a sharp and impactful menagerie of rhythmic interplay and melodic sheen, with the able assistance of Eric Roberson, Leela James, and Darien Dean.

With a harmonic opening that brings to mind Manhattan Transfer, the groove quickly kicks in with the drum prowess of Jamal McKoy and subtly potent guitar and bass pings of Erik Griggs. DeVaughn, Morton, Sunshine, and 7 adapt Mack’s original rhymes to intricately woven vocal phrases layered upon one another in a fashion influenced by both jazz and freestyle rapping. Towards the end of the jam, Phillips let loose with his sax, adding just the right amount of zing to the keyboard layers for what is a most flavorful number.

Check out the “Flava in Ya Ear” remix below and let us know your thoughts!

by Justin Kantor

Photo courtesy of Mike Phillips

 
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