Phil Collins' Big Band "A Hot Night in Paris". Review by Matthew Isaacs.

While waiting for a new album and tour, not to mention the Tarzan soundtrack, "A Hot Night in Paris" is a timely reminder of Phil's lifelong dream now that he is no longer fronting Genesis. This CD was released as a memento of his shows last year and displays a different aspect of Phil's musical loves which have not been shown on his studio albums.

Sure enough, this release is not as major as a proper studio album would be, but Phil has always wanted the chance to "kick along a Big Band" and judging by the musical quality on the CD he picked it up very quickly. On the disc he is joined by the nucleus of his touring band plus other seminal musicians particularly the renowned pianist George Duke and the Motown saxophonist supreme, Gerald Albright.

For the CD Phil decided to stick to his hits. Sussudio sticks to the original faithfully; Invisible Touch is slowed down a la Pink Panther tempo. While I can easily imagine Jack Jones and Tony Bennett crooning effortlessly to this, the "built in ability" bridge is slowed down so much, it sails dangerously close to ripping off the melody of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want To Be With You".

The non Collins/Genesis songs; "Chips and Salsa" and "Milestones" are enjoyable and satisfying if inessential. "Against All Odds" is reworked as a saxophone instrumental. Gerald Albright plays brilliantly on this but I can't help thinking how much more fire and passion Andrew Woolfolk would have put into this song. Phil and his band courageously attempt an extensive reading of the Average White Band soul classic, "Pick Up The Pieces". James Carter plays a mean and fierce tenor sax solo, even does try too hard to be Junior Walker for comfort in places!

The album's highpoint has to be "The Los Endos Suite" complete with an innovative brass section arranged by Vine Street Horns leader, Harry Kim. The second you hear Phil start THAT drum pattern you know what's coming and you know it's going to be wonderful! I will honestly say that this is easily the best version of "Los Endos" I have heard, capped nicely by a timeless solo by the album's co-producer, Daryl Stuermer.

As soon as I heard the jazzed-up "That's All" again it brought back fond memories of first hearing it performed when Phil appeared on the Parkinson show last year. I must say that I was surprised that Parky hasn't played this disc on his Sunday lunchtime show on Radio Two where this album would be best appreciated. That is not putting it down, it would easily provide a freshness placed among the greats. Don't get me wrong this isn't "Sinatra at the Sands" and the Count Basie orchestra but this high standard of jazz playing will no doubt please curious jazz fans who wonder what the hell a bald pop star is doing messing with their music while hardcore Phil Collins fans will find no problem in using this as a taster for Phil's next project. Even when it comes this CD will sound terrific for those hot Sunday dinners...