NEWS and PRESS

  1. Planet Flippo wins National Award

Planet Flippo was one of the bands selected for the Jukebox Jury Award which took place at the Jazz Connects Conference in 2016 and was sponsored by Jazz Times Magazine.  The winning track, "If Six Was Nice" by Jimi Hendrix and arranged by Dave Flippo was from their 2016 release "Life on Mars" on Oppilf Records.

(Life on Mars) Chicago Jazz Magazine Review 2016   - Hrayr Attarian
23.8.2023   

Pianist Dave Flippo’s release Life on Mars is not as esoteric as the title sounds. He and his trio elegantly interpret classic rock tunes with a couple of standards thrown into the mix, and endow them with a delightful sense of swing.

           The overall laid-back mood the band creates bellies constantly engaging variations in their approach to the material. The Curtis Lewis/Nat Adderley-penned “Old Country” opens with lilting effervescence and hints of Latin. Flippo’s facile, charming solo filled with graceful arpeggios nods at Western classical influences. Bassist Donn De Santo embellishes the melody with lyricism before the three musicians exchange clever and inventive phrases. Haunting group performance with con-arco bass makes for a memorable conclusion.

           In intriguing contrast stand such tracks as the award-winning “If Six Were Nine.” The Jimi Hendrix piece features electric instrumentation and a funky ambience. Flippo’s acerbic keyboard notes swagger with soul while De Santo lays down muscular bass lines. Another example is Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” where Flippo and De Santo converse in an eloquent dialogue with plenty of deep simmer over drummer Heath Chappell’s thunderous gallop.

           Flippo’s arrangements do not simply “jazzify” the originals, but tastefully infuse them with new sensibilities. On Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning,” the ensemble plays the theme with suave subtly. Flippo improvises with crystalline tones, showcasing the composition’s complex beauty. Meanwhile Stevie Wonder’s “Visions” is given a crepuscular mood with darkly hued rhythms. Flippo again gracefully exposes its sublime and emotive core.

           Life on Mars may not be terribly innovative or groundbreaking, but thanks to the high-caliber artistry of the individual musicians and their superb camaraderie, it is pleasantly alluring. This enjoyable and captivating work puts a fresh spin on these much-loved songs without detracting from their inherent appeal. — Hrayr Attarian

"LIFE ON MARS" REVIEWS

WDCB RADIO - Chicago, IL - Paul Abella

Dave Flippo has a rather unique new disc out called Life On Mars.  It’s a CD of pop tunes from the post-Tin Pan Alley era, and there are some gems here.  Joni Mitchell’s "Chelsea Morning" is given a gorgeous treatment, and David Bowie’s "Life On Mars" is fantastic as well.  A few standards round out the program, including a really nice version of "It Might As Well Be Spring." Bassist Don De Santo and drummer Heath Chappell do a great job playing alongside Flippo.  Life on Mars is a nicely grooving disc that I think you’re going to like a lot. -  Paul Abella

"TAO  TUNES" REVIEWS (partial) -full reviews below

- The Herald Scotland - Dec 15, 2011 - Rob Adams
"But as one of the most intriguing releases to appear this year, it's (Tao Tunes) also a gift to the wider world. Sure, Tao Tunes can be dark and serious in places but it's also playful, joyous and musically enjoyable, and with the original text's sometimes fortuitous rhyming structure, at times it's simply downright good fun."


 - Chicago Music Examiner - Dec 6, 2011 - Neil Tesser
"And now, in the category of “Bet you didn’t see that one coming,” I give you the new album by Chicago pianist, composer, and vocalist Dave Flippo. But whether it’s the craftsmanship of the writing, or the surprising appeal of Flippo’s vocals, or the strength of the Tao Te Ching itself, Tao Tunes has definitely left its mark on my sensibilities. And a few of its earworms, against all odds, have burrowed deep into my right brain."

 - Musicsprings Blog- Oct 2011 - Richard Mitnick

" This project, Tao Tunes is Flippo's journey to his own spiritual core - the Tao - and the joy and reverence with which he approaches these texts is apparent in the craft and personal attention found in each musical setting. I listened and I listened, over and again. I loved what I heard. This is a great album."

"GANESH" REVIEWS  (partial) full reviews below

All About Jazz Italia - 2002 - Luca Corte Rappis

"Born at the intersecting point of many cultures, the resulting jazz language has discovered how to gather the energies and exalt the qualities of each culture's music, succeeding where others have often failed. A sound is born, rich in shade and color, which is, at once, steeped in a study of the past while striving to understand the present and imagine the future." 

"GANESH" REVIEWS  (partial) full reviews below

All About Jazz Italia - 2002 - Luca Corte Rappis

"Born at the intersecting point of many cultures, the resulting jazz language has discovered how to gather the energies and exalt the qualities of each culture's music, succeeding where others have often failed. A sound is born, rich in shade and color, which is, at once, steeped in a study of the past while striving to understand the present and imagine the future." 

"TENDRILS OF LIGHT" REVIEWS

Chicago Tribune - 1995- Howard Reich

"Of all the Chicago jazz ensembles searching for new sounds, one of the more alluring has to be Flippomusic, the rare band of musical adventurers who prefer to seduce the ear rather than accost it."  ...the band creates a texture as exotic as it is original... a music at once complex and transparant, sophisticated and accessible." it."

Chicago Reader - 1996 - Ted Shen

"Flippo's love of jazz, combined with an intense curiosity of music from other cultures, only heightens his willingness to experiment and mix diverse elements. The result, as can be heard on Flippomusic's latest CD, "Tendrils of LIght," is an idiosyncratic eclecticism that's true to the music it celebrates, be it Javanese, Indian or Brazilian."

"GANESH" REVIEWS  (partial) full reviews below

Translation for Corte Rappis review from

All About Jazz Italia:

 

Ganesh, the most recent work of Dave Flippo, gives us a taste of the Orient through the eyes of a Westerner, uniting the cultures with his own unique philosophy.

 

Born at the intersecting point of many cultures, the resulting jazz language has discoved how to gather the energies and exalt the qualities of each culture's music, succeeding where others have often failed.  Flippo, a native of Chicago, chooses this city as a point of departure for a voyage in time and space, moving from the sounds of ancient instruments like the tabla to modern electronic instruments (and objects such as a giant steel garbage can).  The music passes through the Indian atmosphere of Cool Ali, Battle of Shiva and Ganesh and Ganesh to the Greek Syrtotic, the Indonesian Shadow Dances and the swinging Sweet Imp.  (The Battle of Shiva and Ganesh is a work that could be considered an opera in itself, taking the listener from the birth, development and termination of the conflict--the spectator is presented with a music so profound and vibrant that it seems to materialize in front of the listener's eyes.)

 

Flippo, a person who seems to deeply appreciate Indian music and culture, is joined on  his voyage with musical companions Dan Hesler (sax and flute), Donn DeSanto (bass), Heath Chappell (percussion) and Aris Biskis (percussion).  The CD alternates conversant ensemble pieces with a number of solo piano pieces (four Preludes and Shadow Dances), which are more like solitary meditations--true 

Paying homage to ancient words of Tao Te Ching-The Herald Scotland
by Rob Adams

Dave Flippo has just given himself a Christmas present.

Over the past couple of weeks the Chicago-based pianist has been involved in the launch of his latest album, Tao Tunes. It's a present to himself because the words and messages that he has based the album's 17 songs on have been with him since he discovered the ancient Chinese text The Tao Te Ching at college back in the 1970s. But as one of the most intriguing releases to appear this year, it's also a gift to the wider world.

"I was around 20 when I first came across these texts," he says. "I was a typical undergraduate of the time, I suppose, exploring different religions and looking for some sort of spiritual direction. I read a lot of stuff from Eastern religion, Zen, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, all that kind of thing, but there was something about the Tao Te Ching that I really liked and it became one of the foundations for my spiritual outlook."

If alarm bells are beginning to ring and images are beginning to form of people arriving at your door, looking to convert you, you can switch them off now. Tao Tunes, although its creator is deeply respectful of his subject, isn't some over-reverent, worthy work. The last thing Flippo was looking to do was create a set of meditative, trancelike pieces. His idea was to convey the whole breadth of life's moods and energy. Sure, Tao Tunes can be dark and serious in places but it's also playful, joyous and musically enjoyable, and with the original text's sometimes fortuitous rhyming structure, at times it's simply downright good fun.

"There are a few instances where I rewrote the words to fit or actually added a verse from some other part of the text just to make the words work as a song," he says. "But some of the original translations have lines like 'take a bamboo shoot and make a flute' from Useful which are enjoyable to sing. Then, of course, I had to find something that rhymed with 'useful' and I came up with 'loose rule' and so you have these lines that are quite logical and maybe even profound but they can also be sung in a light-hearted way."

Flippo, who is three-quarters Scottish, with grandparents called McNaughton, Douglas and Lindsay, was born in Pittsburgh and began studying piano at the age of four. Music was the only profession he really wanted to follow, although one of his teachers at Indiana University in Pennsylvania insisted on giving him work experience of a more manual nature.

"He was this very intense Italian guy who had studied with the great Italian virtuoso Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, who himself was an amazingly powerful, dark force, and he used to rebuild houses and get me to work on them," Flippo recalls. "He'd do things like have me pound finishing nails into the walls and then come and check that I'd done it absolutely to his satisfaction. But away from that, he was a real sage. He straightened me out on a lot of things and although I do a lot of teaching myself now and I don't put my own students through that kind of DIY thing, I learned a lot about the teacher-pupil relationship from him and that whole experience may well have filtered into parts of Tao Tunes."

Having graduated from Indiana with a BA in music composition and his newly discovered Chinese texts, Flippo moved on to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he gained his Masters degree, and then took a doctorate in musical arts in music composition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It was at this last port of call where this fan of Frank Zappa, Yes, Gentle Giant and what we now know as world music decided to enlarge upon his side interest in jazz. Moving to Chicago he continued to study and play jazz and became involved in working in theatre, contributing the scores for two full-length musicals, composing for chamber orchestra and touring with slam poet Marc Smith. His interests in world music and jazz coalesced in his band Flippomusic, which released a series of well received albums during the 1990s and noughties and which allowed him to finally bring Tao Tunes to realisation.

"I'd been thinking about putting music to these texts for quite a long time but I wanted to do it in a way that took them seriously but also made them accessible," he says. "For me, this is my way of paying homage to these ancient words and, I hope, getting deeper into the whole idea of them through music. But I was also always conscious that it should reach out to listeners without preaching. So, there were a few years of thinking about how to go about it, then about five or six years ago I really started to work on it, making sure the words were perfect from a songwriting perspective, then coming up with the music."

His settings of the texts lack nothing in variety and it's easy to hear why Chicago jazz radio station WDCB has come on board as the album's sponsor. There are dance metres including a samba, a tango and a beguine, lush ballads, swing tunes, funk grooves and even one song, Hopeless, that harks back to his youthful dalliances with prog rock and has echoes of King Crimson. His singing reminds me in places of the dry, sardonic and mischievous tones of Mose Allison, although it would be just as easy to imagine his fellow Chicagoan Kurt Elling singing Flippo's compositions.

"I thought of him, too," says Flippo. "I've also sent out these songs to Sting, Bobby McFerrin and Patricia Barber but have had no luck so far. Kurt Elling would be the perfect voice for these and I'd love to hear him singing them because although I can sing in the jazz style, I can't do the fantastic gyrations that he would bring to them. I'm not precious about my arrangements. I obviously want my record to sell but I'd be happy for other people to take up these songs and do them their own way. And if that gets the word out about the Tao Te Ching, so much the better because I think we're living through a spiritual drought at the moment, certainly here in the States, and without doing a big sales pitch, I'd like to think there are thoughts expressed in these lyrics that can help people who are looking for something to grab onto spiritually."

Tao Tunes is released on Oppilf Records. For further information, visit www.flippomusic.com.

"GANESH" REVIEWS  (partial) full reviews below