Holland Phillips is one talented fellow. His mother was a music teacher who was always bringing home different instruments that Holland picked up and learned to play. In college it went a step further because, as he explains, “As a music composition major, I had a professor who requested I play all the instruments in a symphony orchestra before writing scores for them. So I worked my way through dozens of instruments.” He finally settled on piano and synthesizer as the main tools of his trade, but, as we know, a good synth player can make it sound like a synthesizer, or like virtually any other instrument in the known world. So, on his latest album (Circles of 8), Phillips makes piano and synth sounds the backbone of his music, but he also stretches well beyond those two sounds by bringing in the sound of lots of instruments out of the orchestra such as trumpet, oboe, bass, strings, bells and additional keyboards (harpsichord, organ). He also invites his friend, saxophonist Paul Christensen, to come in and blow on a couple of pieces.

The music is most likely to be classified as new age, but much of it has a sort of modern-classical feeling to it (Phillips does have a Bachelors in Music Composition and grew up playing Beethoven, Bach, Chopin and Tchaikovsky counter-balanced with Pink Floyd, Styx, Rush and Kansas). It shows in his versatility and band or group-sounding arrangements. So, if you like instrumental music with new age feeling, classical overtones and the sounds of several instruments within each number, check out this one-man band. He KNOWS these instruments.