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Sam Phipps gained some fame for his work with Oingo Boingo, and the late pianist John Larkin became a European pop star billed as Scatman John. But back in 1980, they were both explorative avant-garde players based in Los Angeles. Phipps had a short-lived label, Dream Records, that released Animal Sounds as an LP and two other sets as cassettes. All of the material was very scarce until the release of this CD. Animal Sounds includes the original six-song LP from 1980 plus four songs from the cassette Silent Night that are duets by Phipps and Larkin from a radio appearance in 1982. Phipps displays a large sound on tenor, a knowledge of earlier jazz styles, and the ability to improvise both very freely and with consistent coherence. There are no dull or meandering stretches in his playing, which is fortunate, for he is in the spotlight much of the time. Four of the six numbers that were originally on the Animal Sounds LP are quartet performances. "Animal Sounds" finds Phipps featured via overdubbing on five saxophones, sounding very much like different players who are interacting with each other. "Woke Up Clipped" is an unaccompanied tenor solo based loosely on a Ben Webster piece although it mostly comes across as fresh new music. The four selections from the 1982 radio broadcast include three tenor piano duets. Apparently, Phipps wanted Larkin to play a bit more conservatively but, after being told that during a break, the pianist got mad and departed, leaving Phipps to play "A Lark in the Wind" unaccompanied over the air. Although a little primitively recorded, the music from both sets holds up very well and Sam Phipps is consistently brilliant, making one hope that he will record more extensively in the future.
Performance CreditsSam Phipps Primary Artist,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Overdubs
Noah Young Bass
John Larkin Piano
Steve Larantz Drums
Technical CreditsBen Webster Composer
Sam Phipps Arranger,Composer,Liner Notes
Chris Ashford Reissue Producer
Peter Kuhn Engineer
Public Domain Composer
Ben Lesko Engineer