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Simon Phillips' Protocol at Music Hall, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2018

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It’s easier to make a list of acts Simon Phillips has not played drums for during the past nearly five decades.

The British-born musician’s credits include Jeff Beck, the Who, Toto, Frank Zappa, Judas Priest, Mick Jagger, Tears For Fears and the proverbial scores of others. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame back in 2003 and hasn’t slowed down a lick.

But while he’s most famous for his work with others Phillips makes his own music, too. He’s been releasing solo albums since 1988, and last year he released the fourth from Protocol, the electric jazz-influenced project that’s featured a variety of other all-star players since he started it earlier in the decade. After recovering from wildfires that destroyed his home in northern California last fall, Phillips is back on the road with the latest version of the group, letting the music heal him as much as entertain the audiences...

• Phillips, 60, is careful about how he describes and classifies Protocol’s approach. “Even though people call it fusion, I still like to call it jazz-rock,” he explains by phone. “I like to write instrumental music that has the impact of songs with lyrics. A large part of me comes from a rock ‘n’ roll background, and I’m very concerned with melody so it’s a lot more rock, a lot more pop, even, in the structure of the songs. It’s just got jazz harmonies to make it a little bit more interesting. The message is that instrumental music can still be very memorable and very melodic.

• The new “Protocol IV” album, however, is “a little looser than the other albums in terms of compositions,” according to Phillips. “In some ways it’s a little harder-edged, especially with Greg Howe playing guitar. On the other hand it’s a little more jazzy, too. There’s some different influences coming in, which is the good part about having different people come in and out of the band.”

• Outside of Protocol Phillips has “a couple of things up my sleeve,” both as a player and a producer. But at this point he says the band is “very much the main project right now. We started last October in Europe and we’re going to Europe twice this summer to do festivals and we’re even booking shows in 2019. I’m really trying to get it off the ground, trying to get more people to concerts and more CD sales.”

If You Go:

• Simon Phillips’ Protocol

• 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.

• Music Hall Center, 350 Madison St., Detroit.

• Tickets are $35. Tickets for the postponed December date will be honored.

• Call 313-887-8501 or visit musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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