He may no longer be the front man for Genesis, but Phil Collins isn't just kicking back and taking it easy. This summer he's mounting a brief U.S. tour followed by an equally abbreviated European jaunt, but don't look for him to spend much of his onstage time singing*Collins is largely forgoing the front man role in favor of a return to his main instrument, the drum kit. "I sing only at the end," Collins told USA Today. "A couple of encores, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington tunes."The encore songs aren't the tour's only big band influence*the ensemble Collins has assembled (which is called, appropriately enough, the Phil Collins Big Band) consists of 20 musicians who will perform tunes arranged by John Clayton Jr. and 74-year-old Sammy Nestico, who has a long history working with the likes of Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and Frank Sinatra. Bassist-arranger Clayton has worked with such jazz artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Milt Jackson, and Jones. Clayton and Nestico arranged Collins' tunes from his days with Genesis as well numbers from his solo career.
"A lot of my fans will be grateful I'm playing drums. They complain I don't do it enough," Collins says. An admirer of famed big band drummer Buddy Rich since he first saw him play in 1966, Collins is eager to expose his fans to the new arrangements. "People who go to see rock 'n' roll have never seen 20 people play at the same time*five saxophones, five trumpets, then they hear the tunes they know, rearranged a different way," he says. "You can't fail to smile." In addition to members of Collins' regular band, the ranks of the touring ensemble will be filled by "these very young, hungry, great players, college guys from Chicago."
The European tour will include a gig at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival, for which Collins designed this year's poster. Currently residing in Geneva, Switzerland, with Orianne Cevey, his 25-year-old companion, the 47-year-old musician is working on the soundtrack for Disney's animated version of Tarzan. He has just wrapped up work with ber-producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds on a greatest-hits package for release at the end of the year.
by Linda Darling