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PHIL UPCHURCH In Concert Inakustic INAK 6538-2 (2005)
Funk flavours and mellow guitar... Phil Upchurch

One of the best things about DVD's as the latest format in musical carriage is the fact that record labels finally seem to be a tad more adventurous about what they release. And so it is that this German release from the Black Forestís Ohne Filter TV show captures Chicago session guitarist Phil Upchurch in fine from.

Essentially happier as a sideman than a band leader, Phil's stock in trade is the kind of late night melodic guitar phrasing that will appeal most obviously to fans of George Benson, Lee Ritenour and say Earl Klugh.

But as this DVD shows, Phil is smart enough to show the full range of his qualities, ranging from the subtle funky workout of the opener 6 To 4 to the beautifully thick toned, thumb picked notes on Invitation.

Phil quickly slips from some cool jazz blowing into a blues groove with the help of fellow Chicago and one time Chaka Khan song writer/vocalist Gavin Christopher. Gavin proves to be a muscular blues singer, but goes on to excel on the funkier workouts of which the closing I Don't Want Nobody, includes the contribution of the all star JB horns.

But it is with the preceding ballad Angel Eyes, that you have the essence of guitarist Upchurch, who strikes a lovely equilibrium perched somewhere between mellifluous guitar lines and radio friendly melodies.

In an age where image, speed and hype too often hold sway at the expense of de facto musical talent, Phil Upchurch is a reminder of an era in which Ohne Filter producer Michael Au reminds us, blues, jazz, rock and funk still have much to contribute to the contemporary music scene.

****

Review by Pete Feenstra

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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