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Phyllis Emert - Focus On The Feeling

FOCUS ON THE FEELING is available at Amazon, iTunes, and more.

Originally released in 1985, Focus On The Feeling is the second album by jazz pianist Phyllis Emert.  From the LP's liner notes:

Phyllis melds talent, femininity and radical individuality into a joyful, infectious style that enchants and inspires listeners of every persuasion.  "I'm looking for a wonderful experience between the audience and myself -- a magical experience," she says.


Working within the classic jazz trio format -- piano, upright bass and drums -- Phyllis weaves a spell upon her audience.  She can make the piano moan and grind in a soulful Texas blues style.  She will soar to sublime heights in a graceful ballad, then turn around to sparkle and dance in a lively bossa or swing tune.

Through it all, Phyllis and her bassist/husband Allan Rogers keep an air of enticement in their music -- it never forces its way.  "I try to hang the music together so that it feels smooth, comfortable and pleasant," Phyllis says.  "Part of my function is to soothe, to heal, to impart a peaceful experience -- that's just as important as anything."


Phyllis is an astonishingly strong and articulate player.  Her power and virtuosity have a place, however, and that is in the fluid expression of her emotional depth and poetic vision.  "I've never felt that feats of speed or strength in themselves are enough to offer an audience," she says, "I place more emphasis on melodic content, emotional content, humor and a rhythmic feel."

"One of the most dynamic things you can do is to create a laid-back feeling.  Knowing what to leave out and how to create space is as important as anything you can do.  Simplicity and quietness are important elements of my music."

Another important musical element is bassist Allan Rogers.  "He gives me emotional and musical support," Phyllis says.  "He's my main man, my very own bass player.  He pulls the strings hard and plays lots of low notes -- makes it feel good."


Phyllis started taking formal piano lessons when she was three years old.  She progressed to jazz by the age of 14.  "I got turned on to jazz in high school in the 50s," she says.  "My first favorite was Hampton Hawes.  Milt Jackson and Ray Charles inspired me -- both of them real soulful and blues oriented."

But pop music swayed her as well.  "I'm song oriented because I love singers," she says.  "Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, June Christy, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee -- through them I became a singer on the piano.  I respond to the song and the feel of it rather than the acrobatics."

Phyllis in 1957 became the first woman to perform in the North Texas State University Lab Band.  "I qualified and they gave me the job," she says.  "But," she adds with a wry grin, "my motivation was to get married and have babies."  The duties of a wife and mother soon cast her career in a supporting role.


The late 60s found Phyllis divorced and determined to provide a stable evironment for her children.  Avoiding career opportunities that would entail extensive travel, Phyllis established herself as Dallas' premier accompanist during the 70s.  "Comping is my long suit," Phyllis says, "it's always been a big part of my effort to harmonize the music, musicians and the audience."

The one drawback, she adds, is that "It limits my expression to a singer's or soloist's concept."  Recalling the past 15 years, Phyllis says, "I kept a lid on my creativity or even denied it."  She adds, "Now I am going for more freedom.  My children are grown and I have set my feet on the path of discovery."

Above all, Phyllis' music has a healing, strengthening quality that draws people magnetically and sends them away refreshed.

                                                  -Steve Klinkerman / Staff Writer, Dallas Times Herald


Phyllis Emert, piano
Allan Rogers, bass
Colin Bailey, drums

UPC 889290171054

© 2015 System Tree
Phyllis Emert - Focus On The Feeling