Named after Whitney Balliett’s famous description of jazz and also the series of Channel Four music documentaries commissioned by my father Michael back in the 1980s, this website features writing on everything jazz-related, from acoustic jazz to fusion, occasionally stopping off at avant-garde, blues and soul/funk/R’n’B.
You’ll find gig reviews (all from London venues unless otherwise stated), book/album/DVD reviews, obituaries, general musings and the Rescued From The Vaults feature looking at underrated gems from down the years.
I’m a writer, musician and web editor. My writing has featured in Jazzwise, Classic Pop, Uncut, MOJO, The Guardian and London Jazz News. I was Jazz FM’s web editor between 2010 and 2013 and won the inaugural Jazzwise Write Stuff award for new jazz writing in 2003.
I was Music Adviser on Mike Dibb’s Channel Four documentary ‘Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation’ and the 2014 feature film ‘Titus’. I am currently the Jazz Catalogue Manager at Universal Music Group. My book about the band Level 42 is published on 28th March 2021 and can be pre-ordered on Burning Shed and Amazon.
I’ve written the liner notes the Grammy-nominated ‘Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool’ DVD and for albums including Billy Cobham, Tony Williams, Working Week, LA Express, Don Ellis, Maynard Ferguson, James Hayes and Steve Khan. My other website, movingtheriver.com, concentrates on the music, movies and TV of the 1980s.
As a drummer, I’ve performed and recorded with many artists and bands including the Shez Raja Collective, Anthony Joseph and the Spasm Band, Planetman and the Internationalz, Billy Cobham, Jem Godfrey, Moke, Scott Stroman and Jean Toussaint. I also play bass and guitar and co-wrote two tracks on Silver Sun’s 2006 album Dad’s Weird Dream. Check out my Soundcloud artist page and drumming profile.
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© Matt Phillips 2015-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used – in fact are encouraged – provided that full and clear credit is given to Matt Phillips/soundsofsurprise.com with appropriate and specific links back to the original content. Copyright is not claimed for images of album covers.
My favourite writers: Ian MacDonald, Tom Hibbert, Pauline Kael, Martin Amis, Harold Pinter, Bruce Robinson, Gary Giddins, Nick Kent, Kevin LeGendre, Anthony Neilson, Chris Morris
Favourite books: ‘Indecent Exposure’ by David McLintick, ‘Accident’ by Nicholas Mosley, ‘Smoking In Bed‘ by Alistair Owen/Bruce Robinson, ‘Songwriters On Songwriting’ by Paul Zollo, ‘Who The Hell‘ by Tom Hibbert, ‘The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol And The American Writer’ by Thomas A Dardis, ‘Aja (33 1/3)’ by Don Breithaupt, ‘Easy Riders Raging Bulls’ by Peter Biskind, ‘The Complete David Bowie‘ by Nicholas Pegg, ‘The People’s Music’ by Ian MacDonald, ‘Visions Of Jazz‘ by Gary Giddins, ‘Thelonious Monk‘ by Robin DG Kelley
Favourite movies: ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘Diner’, ‘Accident’, ‘This Is Spinal Tap’, ‘Sideways’, ‘The Player’, ‘Career Girls’, ‘Kes’, ‘The Long Goodbye’, ‘The Go-Between’ ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Performance’, ‘Walkabout’, ‘Don’t Look Now’, ‘Halloween’, ‘The Caretaker’, ‘The Sure Thing’, ‘The Apartment’, ‘Five Easy Pieces’, ‘Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia’, ‘Duel’, ‘Airplane’, ‘The King Of Comedy’, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘Barton Fink’, ‘Withnail And I’, ‘Last Tango In Paris’ etc etc
Get in touch, it’s always good to hear from you: