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Live Reviews

Joe McPhee, Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen: Trio X in Amsterdam

By Published: April 13, 2006

The highlight of the set came in a haunting improvisation which evolved into a heartfelt rendition of Ornette's "Lonely Woman , the theme, intoned so delicately that you felt if you breathed it would blow away. Duval bowed just above the bridge to draw out squeaks and overtones at a glacial pace, atop pattering brushwork from Rosen. McPhee blew long suspended notes, while swinging his horn from side to side. Then as Duval plucked ringing harmonics, McPhee circular breathed through his horn to produce delicate wavering squeals, while at the same time vocalising the theme, humming in his throat, producing an almost electronically distorted sound. It was an astonishing, electrifying moment, packing a visceral kick which raised the hairs on the back of my neck and formed the centrepiece of deeply moving version of Ornette's classic.

Extended technique put to truly musical use was not confined to McPhee's tenor. He started the next piece solo on pocket trumpet, sputtering through the diminutive horn with the bell placed over the mic and essaying a morse code of percussive tapping and breathy smears. Duval took off his shades and regarded McPhee intently, as he muted his horn with his hand and slowly backed away from the mic, while calling forth an incredibly quiet yet sustained high pitched squeal. As whole tones emerged from the ululations, a lyrical Spanish feel prevailed, until first bass then drums joined the fray and they were off once more.

At the end of a lengthy set, the band were all smiles and McPhee spoke for the first time, introducing his companions to an enthusiastic crowd who called them back for an encore: another Trio X favourite - "Blue Monk , laid down lovingly in a lazy loping tempo, with Rosen syncopating the head on his tuned drums before the process of deconstruction kicked in, refracting the theme through the lens of Trio X. Then back to the theme, before a unison finish, more smiles and a deep bow from McPhee.

Wonderful life enriching and affirming music, which set my wife and I on a high for the rest of the day before we flew back to the UK, goin' home.

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