The last time I wrote about saxophonist Mike Phillips (in a July 22, 2016 blog about the Oakland Jazz Festival), I forgot to mention I first saw him live at a Jill Scott show. It also was my first time seeing Jill live (at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA circa 2001. The exact date escapes me because my ticket stub is MIA).
I remember she introduced him; he played (probably on The Way), I was blown away, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Fast forward to Feb. 20, 2017, and Mike is giving his all to a sold-out crowd at Yoshi’s in Oakland. It’s his first time here (he mentions performing at the one in San Francisco – which is now another name – but, he said, “It wasn’t my people.”)
He was definitely amongst his people in Oakland as we jammed and came out of our seats for the man who has played with Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson.
The purity with which Mike plays keeps you mesmerized and engaged. He’s jazz, yet you can tell he’s influenced by R&B and hip-hop. His versatility and style keeps you wanting more.
He performed for an hour and a half; he could have done another hour and a half and we wouldn’t have minded.
That’s just how fantastic he is.
I mean, who plays the The Golden Girls theme song and has the crowd singing along? Mike Phillips!
Who does their own freestyle rap and has the crowd egging him on? Mike Phillips!
Mike had us dancing while he and his band played Tupac’s California Love (which was mixed with Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City); we were in the aisle bending over Doin’ Da Butt (thanks EU), repeating 50 Cent’s 20 Questions while finally Bustin’ Loose (Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers).
My pictures aren’t great (I’m an old-school, take a photo with a REAL camera person, but Yoshi’s doesn’t allow those, so I had to rely on my smart phone camera – with no flash. Just terrible).
They also don’t allow you to video tape performances; however, I sneaked some video of this show because I just had to share it with you all.
I’m hopeful Yoshi’s brings him back again – and again and again. They actually should let him have a week residence. I’m confident he would sell-out every day.
A Hidden Beach recording artist, Mike’s albums include You Have Reached Mike Phillips, Uncommon Denominator, and M.P.3 (his latest).