Anyone familiar with ’60s and ’70s British jazz act The Peddlers should be well aware that distinctively voiced keyboardist Roy Phillips is NZ-based. Recorded in Christchurch, his ‘Blue Groove’ kicks off in a nostalgic mood. The title track and album opener is a downbeat smoky club flashback to those days and a wonderful reminder as to what made the group great all those years ago. Little has changed regarding Phillips’ maple syrup-voiced delivery, some age-added gravel perhaps, but it’s his keyboard virtuosity that truly shines. Laden with strings, double bass, horns, drum loops and vocal harmonies, it truly is an expansive listen.
There’s lots here for fans of modern fusion to enjoy. Sunset Mornings captures a Latin dance abandon with just a hint of Weather Report, whilst Perfect burns slowly into a dark funk odyssey. Weighing both mellow jazz with upbeat romps it features John Campbell on guitar, Geoff Culverwell (horns), Robyn Stevens and Albert Bennet on bvs. One can assume Phillips is responsible for the wah-laden double bass lines and swinging drum loops. A recent inclusion in hit TV show Breaking Bad reminded many that The Peddlers were pioneers of their genre. With an ounce of luck ‘Blue Groove’ will remind local audiences of the intrigue that is Roy Phillips and how lucky we are to have him on our shores.