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Mike Phillips ATL Jazz Festival Weekend:


BACK By: Cheryl Armour     
 May 28, 2011   Trombone Shorty Photos Here

The 34th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival presents:
AJF Late Night Jazz Jam
Saturday, May 28, 2011
@ Loews Atlanta Hotel - Ellington Ballroom


Grammy award winning saxophonist Mike Phillips began honing his skills as a live performer playing jazz clubs in the Atlanta area early on in his career.  When the city of Atlanta reached out and asked him to serve as the first ever Ambassador for this year’s 34th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival, he was honored to do so.

Phillips took to the stage last Saturday night for a Late Night Jazz Jam at the Loews Atlanta Hotel where he put on a fantastic show.  R&B and gospel singer, songwriter and actress Chandra Currelley warmed up the crowd with her amazing vocal talents and scat skills.  Chandra became the lead singer in the music group, "The S.O.S. Band" in the late eighties.  In 1991 she co-wrote three songs on the LP "One of Many Nights." The hit single, "Sometimes I Wonder," was responsible for putting "The S.O.S. Band" back on  the map.  In 1992, Chandra left "The S.O.S. Band" to pursue her career in acting and theater. Since that time, she has blazed a fiery trail in the world of theater.  Visit www.chandracurrelley.com to purchase music and read more on her amazing career.

Mike Phillips also featured Mike Burton and Ryan Kilgore, a couple of young lions on the saxophone.

Mike Burton joined Mike Phillips on stage for a few numbers.  He also performed a live version of the original composition "Passion" from his latest record "Soulful."  Burton has recorded with a long list of jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, gospel, and hip/hop artists including Polow Da Don, Ann Nesby, Jennifer Holliday, PJ Morton, Avery Sunshine, Marcus Johnson, The Mississippi Mass Choir, and many others. His soulful saxophone can also be heard on the Grammy Nominated "Love Has Finally Come At Last," by Calvin Richardson. Burton was also a featured soloist on the Hidden Beach Recording "Unwrapped Volume 5."  Burton has also written and/or produced songs for Alex Bugnon, Terrell Carter, Christian Keyes, Chandra Currelley, and Melvin Miller. Mike's latest CD, "Soulful" was released on March 1, 2011.  Get it on itunes:


Saxophonist Ryan Kilgore was also invited to perform with the band.  According to Kilgore, “Mike Phillips is my mentor in this business.  Anytime I can share the stage with him and other great musicians such as Mike Burton and Mr. Kim Waters, I try not to pass it up.  I was thrilled when he asked me to come by and play.” Kilgore is a fourth generation sax player from Atlanta, Georgia and a Clark Atlanta University alum.  Following a successful run performing with Tyler Perry’s “The Marriage Counselor,” Ryan is currently touring with musical icon Stevie Wonder on Stevie’s first world tour in 15 years.  Ryan has worked with legendary producers/writers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and has performed on the movie soundtracks for “Country Bears” (Walt Disney), and “The Fighting Temptations” (Paramount Pictures) with vocalist Faith Evans. He has also made cameo appearances as a musician in the films “Drumline” (20th Century Fox), “The Fighting Temptations” (Paramount Pictures), and Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” (Paramount Pictures). As a freelance artist, Ryan has opened for David Sanborn, Stanley Clarke, and Kirk Whalum and has shared the stage with artists such as Terry Cummings and Vanessa Bell Armstrong.  His brand new album “Conversations with Love” is available now on itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ryan-kilgore/id387003701?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

The audience was also treated to a special, impromptu performance by renowned saxophonist Kim Waters who happened to be in the house that evening.  Waters has built a solid career becoming one of the top five best-selling instrumentalists in jazz. The prolific saxman recently celebrated his 20th anniversary in the business.  On January 26, 2010 Kim Waters released "Love Stories," his finest CD yet.  A sublime collection of love inspired anthems available on itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-stories/id350619058

Those who have not had the pleasure of seeing Mike Phillips perform live, be sure to check him out next time he's playing in a town near you.  You won't be disappointed!  Having performed with Prince, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, he has mastered the art of playing to packed houses large and small, entertaining the crowd with his radiant smile, quick wit, compelling stage presence and amazing saxophone skills.  Phillips got the crowd involved as he did a bit of "Computer Love" by Roger Troutman and Zapp inviting audience members to update their facebook status and let everyone know they were hanging out with Mike Philips.  He left the stage and wandered through the crowd thrilling several audience members with a personal performance.  He made the crowd laugh, he made them cheer, he even made them get up and dance.  The show was an exciting display of his musical genius and diversity as an entertainer.  It's also nice to see his ongoing commitment to mentoring and helping up and coming artists such as Mike Burton and Ryan Kilgore as they hone their skills as musicians and entertainers. 

If you're in the D.C. area, you can catch Mike Phillips at Blues Alley on Sunday, June 26, 2011. Those of you on the West Coast can see Mike at "Jazzfest West" on July 16, 2011 in Los Angeles.  Check your local listings for additional dates and information.  Mike Phillips hits the road this fall for the Michael Jackson "The Immortal World Tour" by Cirque du Soleil. Get cities, dates and ticket info here:     http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/michael-jackson-tour/tickets.aspx

Join his Facebook page for up-to-date information on upcoming performances.  His 3rd recording from Hidden Beach Records, MP3 is available on itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/m-p-3/id382524587

Mike Phillips


Mike Burton

Ryan Kilgore


  May 27, 2011





Atlanta 2011 Jazz Festival  

The 34th Annual Atlanta 2011 Jazz Festival presents:
AJF Late Night Jazz Jam
Saturday, May 28
@ Loews Atlanta Hotel - Ellington Ballroom

Grammy award-winning saxophonist Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips with special guest saxophonist Mike Burton and opening performance by Chandra Currelley $25/door.
Mike Phillips is in Atlanta this weekend for the 34th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival.  Mike will be performing at the Loews Atlanta Hotel Saturday night.  He stopped to talk with us about his career, performing with Prince and serving as the Ambassador for the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

SJM:  Having just arrived in Atlanta from L.A. where you played several shows with Prince, would you like to start by telling us how you became a part of the New Power Generation?

Mike:  I met Prince in 2003 when he came to one of my gigs.  He asked me to sit in with him that night.  I sat in with the band, and it was a pretty exciting time.  I told him I’d like to play with him again and he said, “No problem.”  A couple of months later he asked me to join him for the Musicology tour which was one of his most successful tours ever.  Now he’ll call me up when he wants me to come do a show and I’ll go sit in with the band whenever my schedule allows.

SJM:  You’ve worked with so many great musicians in your career.  You’re probably the only person in the world to have recorded with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince.  Having achieved such a level of success so quickly in your career, what keeps you motivated to continue to push yourself forward to greater accomplishments?
Mike:  That’s easy.  It’s the pursuit of perfection.  Some people might look at it and say I’ve reached the pinnacle of what it is to record with probably the Mt. Rushmore of music, but at the end of the day it’s something that happened yesterday.  It has nothing to do with tomorrow’s pursuit of perfection and growth.
Prince                              Stevie Wonder              Michael Jackson

SJM:  Some of the shows you recently played with Prince were in small rooms.  How is it different playing to a small, intimate group of people vs. a large crowd?
Mike:  If you master how to play to a large crowd, you’ll be fine playing to anyone.  You want to look for five things in your musicianship that you know the crowd will go crazy for.  It could be something theatrical, something musical or a little bit of both.  What are those five things and how can you incorporate them into your performance?  You have to evenly space those things out throughout the show to keep everybody interested and happy.  So you reach a pinnacle, you bring it back down and then you move it back up.  You construct it to the point where you create a wave where everybody reaches those peaks and valleys together and  you create a journey between the valley and the peaks.  I think doing that will always keep the large crowds interested.  You have to really take them on a journey.

SJM:  Do you do much improvisation?  Do you like to mix it up and surprise people so they don’t quite know what to expect?
Mike:  My music director, Eric Parker, will tell you we’ve never played the same show twice.  There’s always a small wrinkle or change in the set list.  That’s one of the many things I’ve learned from Prince, there has to be another wrinkle that makes everything that you’re doing interesting.  Of course there has to be a shell of structure, but you have to be creative inside of that shell.

SJM:  I’ve been following you on Facebook and Twitter and enjoy how personable you are.  How do you feel about social media and the impact it has had on your career?
Mike:  People want authenticity.  I think if you as an artist hide behind your management and you have people update your Facebook status or Twitter account for you, you’re missing out on an opportunity to really connect with your audience.

SJM:  So many artists are now using the internet and social media to put their music out trying to make a name for themselves.  Are there any up and coming artists that have caught your attention?
Mike:  You have to commend artists like Lin Rountree, Farnell Newton and saxophonist Ryan Kilgore.  These guys are doing whatever it takes to get their product out without any support from any label whatsoever. 

SJM:  Tell us about your role as the first ever Ambassador for the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Mike:  I’m honored that the City of Atlanta reached out and asked me to fill this role.  I was in Atlanta when I first got signed to my record label, and I really honed my craft here.  I played all the small clubs and honed my skills as a live performer.  For the city to come back and say they wanted me to do this... I was absolutely honored.

SJM:  Can you share with us a little bit about the workshops you’ve done in local public schools in your role as Ambassador for the Atlanta Jazz Festival?
Mike:  We did some master classes where I spoke to the kids.  We talked about life and how it relates to music and gave them a little bit of history about the Negro spiritual which branched out in two ways.  People were so upset at the state of slavery that they responded in one of two ways.  The first way was “God is going to make a way, just hang in there,” which led to gospel.  And the other place it went was “I don’t know how I’m going to make it.  I’m feeling so sad,” which led to the blues.

SJM:  You will be performing this weekend at the Loew’s Hotel Atlanta as part of the Atlanta Jazz Festival.  Are you looking forward to the show?  
Mike:  Yes, I brought in a new artist named Mike Burton who will perform with me.  He’s been in a house band for years with Tyler Perry traveling with the play.  He’s also played in some of Tyler Perry’s movies.  He’s almost like Tyler Perry’s go to guy for the horn.  I’m Pleased to be featuring him at this show.

SJM:  So what upcoming projects can we look forward to seeing from you?  Are there any other artists you look forward to collaborating with in the near future?
Mike:  I’ve recorded with the Big 3 but got to tour with just two of them.  I didn’t have an opportunity to tour with Michael Jackson since he passed before the tour began.  The Michael Jackson estate contacted me and asked me to do an exclusive tour with Michael Jackson’s “The Immortal World Tour” show by Cirque du Soleil.  The show will feature Michael Jackson’s music performed live with the Cirque du Soleil production.  With Michael Jackson’s musical director, Greg Phillinganes at the helm I know the music will be phenomenal.  Touring with Michael Jackson live would have been the greatest, but I have the ultimate consolation prize in doing this Cirque du Soleil tour and his image and his spirit will be all over the production.
For a complete schedule of the Atlanta Jazz Festival events and performers visit  www.atlantafestivals.com and click the “Performers” tab.





BACK By: Cheryl Armour     




Photos By:

Cheryl Armour 






  Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Office of Cultural Affairs Director Camille Love 























 April 21, 2011


Atlanta Jazz Festival 2011 Launch Party Features Mayor Reed


The City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs presents the 34th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival May 28-30, 2011.  A preview party was held on Thursday, April 21st at the Loews Atlanta Hotel - the official hotel for the 2011 Atlanta Jazz Festival.  The evening included a food tasting from eight local restaurants, Grey Goose cocktails and a musical performance by the JC Young Middle School’s Jazz Ensemble with Special Guest, Grammy-nominated trum-peter,  Russell Gunn.  It was also announced that a free iphone app will be available for the first time this year! Users will have access to the Atlanta Jazz Festival events on their ipod or iphone. The app is scheduled to be released in early May. 
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Office of Cultural Affairs Director Camille Love were on hand to help kick off the festivities.

"Atlanta has become a premier destination for jazz and entertain-ment," said Camille Russell Love. "Our long-standing partner-ships with Piedmont Park, Chastain Park Amphitheater, our sponsors and partners make it possible to present a world-class experience for residents and visitors.  When you look at the festival's unique commitment to jazz in its purest form, it is exciting for the Atlanta Jazz Festival to be a catalyst for introducing emerging talent.  We work hard to stay ahead-of-the-curve and to create an experience that presents cutting edge talent."

"I am truly excited to celebrate the 34th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival," said Mayor Reed. “This annual tradition embodies the legacy of one of America’s greatest art forms, while serving as the premier outlet for a new generation to embrace the jazz culture.”

Regarded as one of the country’s largest FREE jazz festivals, this annual celebration showcases jazz legends as well as up-and-coming jazz artists. The mission of the Atlanta Jazz Festival is to expose and entertain a diverse audience of Jazz aficionados, young Jazz enthusiasts and aspiring musicians to the rich heritage and variety of Jazz as an authentic form of traditional music.  The Atlanta Jazz Festival provides the City with an opportunity to unify Atlanta’s diverse population, to celebrate Atlanta’s heritage and to promote tourism. 

The 2-day Memorial Day weekend concert held in Piedmont Park tops off 31 days of Jazz in Atlanta featuring live jazz performances at venues across the city throughout the month of May.  Grammy Award winning saxophonist, Mike Phillips has joined as the first ever Atlanta Jazz Festival Ambassador.  The addition of the Budweiser International Jazz Stage will bring Latin Jazz, Bossa Nova and other globally inspired jazz genres to the festival for all to enjoy.  A bonus third day has been added to the Jazz Festival weekend this year.  Come out to Center Stage on May 30th for Jazz under the stars featuring performances by  Trombone Shorty.  Tickets available through Ticketmaster or charge by phone: 800-745-3000














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