"Mr. Collins propelled instrumental versions of songs he wrote with and without Genesis, the band he left in 1996, and backed guest soloists in standards.... Throughout the set, he presided over his well-drilled ensemble like a latter-day Buddy Rich. The arrangements (by Sammy Nestico, who worked with Count Basie in the 1960s and '70s, and John Clayton Jr., who works with Quincy Jones), followed big-band conventions: trumpets and saxophones tossing phrases back and forth, trombones for mellowness and muscle, a pause for a drum flourish before the final big phrase. Mr. Collins...isn't joining the current wave of swing revivalists, who thrive on anachronism and irony. He approached the music straightforwardly, recreating past approaches through respect for their craftsmanship. The band played standards without a hint of iconoclasm....."
New York Times


Phil Collins (right, standing) talks to the crowd attending our concert at the Landesmuseum in Zurich, Switzerland.
This image is a montage of several photos that capture the beauty of this historic site, but the upper-right corner remains incomplete.

Photo credit: Antonio García


Phil Collins and
Antonio García during rehearsals in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Photo credit: Antonio García



It was my privilege to join Phil Collins, the core members of his pop band, and additional, exceptional horn players (drawn primarily from colleagues I had known through my work as an educator in Illinois over the preceding eleven years) to create the Phil Collins Big Band for his 1998 U.S./European Tour.


"At all times Antonio never played less than the 100% he promised....
He can be in my band whenever he wants."
Phil Collins


Phil checks the drum set out during the sound check for our final concert of the tour in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Photo credit: Antonio García


Through the invitation of horn contractor Ron Modell, a longtime educator and friend, I covered my favorite chair in a big band: bass trombone. The charts were excellent; the musicians were superb; the tour sites provided many memories; Phil was a most gracious and highly inspirational drummer/bandleader; and the band was smokin'!

In a broadcast aired in July 2000, the Phil Collins Big Band received the Billboard/BET on Jazz Award for Best Big Band. You can hear and see the band in some video clips linked from the "Set List" section below. Browse the menu at left for details and reminiscences about the Phil Collins Big Band Tour '98!







A Hot Night in Paris, Phil Collins Big Band, released in Europe (WEA International 3984 27221-2, June) and the U.S. (Atlantic 83198-2, July) in 1999.

This is simply one of the best-produced live big band recordings ever—I compliment Don Murray, Daryl Stuermer, and (original engineers) Mauricio Guerrero and Christophe Suchet on their work bringing such a great sound to the disc. And the band's exciting performance is indeed representative of the music we brought to 27 cities in 1998.

Music on "Hot Night" CD Composer/Arranger Soloists
Sussudio Phil Collins/Mike Barone Gerald Albright, Phil Collins
That's All Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford/John Clayton Jr. Arturo Velasco, Chris Collins
Invisible Touch Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford/Sammy Nestico Brad Cole, Larry Panella
Hold On My Heart Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford/John Clayton Jr. Harry Kim
Chips & Salsa Gerald Albright/Harry Kim Brad Cole, Gerald Albright, Luis Conte
I Don't Care Anymore Phil Collins/John Clayton Jr. Arturo Velasco
Milestones Miles Davis/John Clayton Jr. Larry Panella, Chris Collins, Al Hood, Phil Collins
Against All Odds Phil Collins/David Stout Gerald Albright
Pick Up The Pieces Roger Ball, Robert Mackintosh, Malcolm Duncan, Hamish Stewart, Alan Gorrie, Owen McIntyre/Arif Mardin Gerald Albright, George Duke, James Carter
The Los Endos Suite Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Harry Kim, Mike Rutherford/Harry Kim Phil Collins, Luis Conte, Harry Kim, Daryl Stuermer, Gerald Albright

In 2005 a DVD was released: Phil Collins: Finally...The First Farewell Tour (Warner Music R2 970397) that focuses on Phil's pop bands. But if you scroll through Disc 1's supplementary videos, you'll find an extended version of "Pick Up the Pieces" from its one performance on the tour.

I enjoy "Pick Up the Pieces" as much as probably anyone (and still have the 45-rpm record to prove it); but twenty minutes of one-chord funk can be a long time. Still, the soloing talents of such musicians as saxophonists James Carter, Gerald Albright, Pee Wee Ellis, Klaus Doldinger, and Sadao Watanabe and pianist George Duke added life to the one-chord vamp. We played this only once on the tour, at the Montreux Jazz Festival, as a tribute to our guest-conductor for that tune, the legendary Arif Mardin, whose hit-making work at Atlantic Records is well known and who had arranged the chart and its tasty solis.


Click on this image to see Phil introducing the band
to the crowd at the
Montreux Jazz Festival.

(front) Phil Collins and Ron Modell with the members of the horn section that had roots in Illinois:
(back) Matt James, Kevin Sheehan, Chris Collins, Al Hood, Larry Panella, Mark Bettcher, Tito Carillo, Scott Bliege, Ian Nevins, and Antonio García.

Photo credit: Antonio García

Adding to my delight on the tour was my reunion with such superb musicians and friends as my educational colleagues Larry Panella, Ron Modell, Scott Bliege, and Mark Bettcher and former students Kevin Sheehan, Matt James, Chris Collins, Ian Nevins, Tito Carillo, and Al Hood (the latter five of whom are also now my colleagues in the jazz education world). All are professional performers as well.




"Antonio García is a tremendous musician, as consistent as I have encountered in all my experiences. On a daily basis Tony brought with him a high level of professionalism that we could rely on regardless of the schedule, venue, or road fatigue."
Daniel Fornero
, Lead Trumpeter,
Phil Collins Big Band

We had a challenging but rewarding schedule that brought us to crowds of Phil Collins' pop fans, some big band fans, and those willing to experiment listening to his pop tunes in a jazz vein.


Phil Collins Big Band Tour 1998
Locale Dates
Depart Chicago for Geneva, Switzerland Sat May 30
Arrive Lausanne, Switzerland Sun May 31
Rehearse in Lausanne June 1-9
Depart Lausanne, fly out of Geneva Wed June 10
Arrive California Thu June 11
U.S. Tour June
Saratoga, CA Fri 12
Saratoga, CA Sat 13
Santa Barbara, CA Sun 14
Los Angeles, CA Mon 15
—open— Tue 16
—open— Wed 17
Houston, TX Thu 18
Birmingham, AL Fri 19
Atlanta, GA Sat 20
Pittsburgh, PA Sun 21
Cleveland, OH Mon 22
Detroit, MI Tue 23
—travel— Wed 24
Chicago, IL Thu 25
Milwaukee, WI Fri 26
—travel— Sat 27
Boston, MA Sun 28
New York, NY (Carnegie) Mon 29
New York, NY (Alice Tully) Tue 30
Fly to Chicago Wed 1
Break in Chicago Thu 2-Sat 4
European Tour July
Depart Chicago Sun 5
Arrive Copenhagen Mon 6
Copenhagen, Denmark Tue 7
Berlin, Germany Wed 8
Cologne, Germany Thu 9
The Hague, Netherlands Fri 10
Remich, Luxembourg Sat 11
—travel— Sun 12
Nice, France Mon 13
Montreux, Switzerland Tue 14
Zurich, Switzerland Wed 15
—travel— Thu 16
Pori, Finland Fri 17
—travel— Sat 18
Cernobbio, Italy Sun 19
Lyon, France Mon 20
Paris, France Tue 21
—travel— Wed 22
London, England Thu 23
Birmingham, U.K. Fri 24
Depart U.K. Sat 25
Arrive Chicago Sat 25



Tony relaxes in the lobby of the Grand Rex Theatre in Paris, France.

Photo credit: Antonio García













Larry Panella and Luis Conte indulge in the ritual of currency exchange while on the road.

Photo credit: Antonio García















Getting to Carnegie Hall is a lot easier with a great road crew such as the PCBB had throughout the tour.

Photo credit: Antonio García



















"It was a joy to work with Tony.
His high level of musicianship and consistency in his performance
impressed me greatly."

Arturo Velasco
, Lead Trombonist
Phil Collins Big Band

We played the same set almost every performance: about two hours and fifteen minutes each night, with Phil on stage the entire time. There were no "horns tacet" tunes in the regular set; in fact, only in the least often-used encore did I have a tune to lay out on at all—it was a high-energy set.

García performing on bass trombone with the
Phil Collins Big Band
(Collins drumming at far left)

photo credit:
Montreux Jazz Festival

If you were in attendance at one of the concerts, this is what you heard:

Music Arranger Soloists YouTube Video Link (often footage from nationally aired TV specials)
Two Hearts David Stout Daryl Stuermer --
That's All John Clayton Jr. Arturo Velasco, Chris Collins --
Invisible Touch Sammy Nestico Brad Cole, Larry Panella --
Rad Dudeski John Clayton Jr. Daryl Stuermer, Al Hood Montreux Jazz Festival
Against All Odds David Stout Gerald Albright --
I Don't Care Anymore John Clayton Jr. Arturo Velasco --
Hold On My Heart John Clayton Jr. Harry Kim --
In The Air Tonight Harry Kim Gerald Albright Montreux Jazz Festival
Pori Jazz Festival
Nice Jazz Festival
(and the bass bone is where in that last mix?)
Chips & Salsa Harry Kim Brad Cole, Gerald Albright, Luis Conte Montreux Jazz Festival
(and, pleasingly, the mix includes some bass trombone!)
Georgia On My Mind Harry Kim Gerald Albright --
From This Moment On David Stout Oleta Adams --
I Could Write A Book David Stout Oleta Adams, Tito Carillo --
I Got A Right To Sing The Blues David Stout Oleta Adams, Arturo Velasco --
I Want To Be Happy David Stout Oleta Adams --
New York State Of Mind David Stout Harry Kim, Oleta Adams, Daryl Stuermer Pori Jazz Festival
Watch What Happens David Stout Oleta Adams Pori Jazz Festival
(bones have returned to the mix!)
Milestones John Clayton Jr. Larry Panella, Chris Collins, Al Hood, Phil Collins --
The Los Endos Suite Harry Kim Phil Collins, Luis Conte, Harry Kim, Daryl Stuermer, Gerald Albright --
Do Nothin' 'Til You Hear From Me
or Just The Way You Look Tonight
or Always
Sammy Nestico
Brad Cole
Brad Cole
Chris Collins, Al Hood, Phil Collins (vocals)
Harry Kim
- - - -
"Do Nothin'" at the Pori Jazz Festival
(Percussionist Luis Conte, currently with "Dancing with the Stars," would play drums while Phil sang. Unfortunately, the audio is not quite synched with the video here.)
Sussudio Mike Barone Gerald Albright, Phil Collins Nice Jazz Festival
(a little more bass bone in the mix, please!)

and once at Montreux:

Pick Up The Pieces

Roger Ball, Robert Mackintosh, Malcolm Duncan, Hamish Stewart, Alan Gorrie, Owen McIntyre/Arif Mardin

Gerald Albright, George Duke (fills), Klaus Doldinger, Sadao Watanabe, George Duke, Pee Wee Ellis, James Carter

"Pieces'" at the Montreux Jazz Festival
(This performance, directed by Arif Mardin, celebrated his tenure at Atlantic Records.)

Many of the above charts for big band are now available from Otter Distributors (see Selected Links).


We ended the '98 tour with many fond memories and looked forward to the potential of a reunion tour in the future. Phil had said that he intended to play in the big band format as a regular part of his musical activity, but later hand and back injuries made that an improbability. Many of us would definitely enjoy being back on the road with Phil! But we are delighted that he may return to some vocal touring.

A trombone soli from Bliege, Velasco, Bettcher, and García.

Phil Collins gives the 'bones a bow.


If you would like to see some more of my favorite images from the tour, click here to open the photo album.


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