Joe McPhee: Live in Vilnius & The Damage is Done
Joe McPhee / Peter Brotzmann / Kent Kessler / Michael Zerang
Though conjuring quite different and sometimes problematic soundworlds, these Joe McPhee projects are satisfying as they blend tradition with innovation.
Trio X' 2006 concert activity receives further documentation on the double LP Live in Vilnius. It follows on the heels of a superb and expertly recorded seven-disc box courtesy of CIMPoL; it should be noted that the No Business sound isn't quite as full and rich. That said, the music is as thoughtful and alive, often coming to boiling point as the groupMcPhee with bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosenengages in its usual free-ranging dances around standards. Of particular interest is a sequence in which a spunky take on "Evidence" slides into "God Bless the Child," with a beautifully meditative Duval solo. The former works quite well in the reverberant acoustic, each note of Monk's complex melody blooming as it's passed back and forth or played in unison. The CIMPoL dates from later in 2006 capture a certain intimacy lacking here, but there is dynamic contrast a-plenty and the group is in fine form.
The double disc The Damage is Done from Peter Brötzmann and company, recorded at Krakow's Alchemia in 2008, constitutes what might be expected with three members of his tentet in attendance: McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Michael Zerang. It's a wild ride, often at fever pitch. There are moments of calm, as with the opening of "With Charonk," where McPhee ruminates in the trumpet's highest registers. However, following a silence, Brötzmann shatters the mood with an Ayler-esque blast, kicking into overdrive again. Such moments are thrilling and disappointing, as they demonstrate disregard for the emerging group dynamic. However, there are many instances of powerful interaction, such as the gorgeous clarinet duo during the second set, where McPhee and Brötzmann play in quarter-tones! Fans of these musicians need not hesitate, but the scorching music won't win any converts.
Tracks and Personnel
Live in Vilnius
Tracks: Visions of War; Valentines in a Fog of War; Going Home; Dance of Our Fathers; Lonely Woman; Law Years; Smiles for Samuel; The Basic Principles; Evidence; God Bless the Child; For Don Cherry; Memories of the Dream Book; In Our Own Sweet Way; My Soul Cries Out; Blue Monk.
Personnel: Joe McPhee: tenor saxophone and cornet; Dominic Duval: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.
The Damage is Done
Tracks: CD1: The Damage Is Done; Alchemia Souls. CD2: A Temporary Trip; With Charon; On The Acheron; Into The Hades.
Personnel: Joe McPhee: trumpet, alto saxophone; Peter Brötzmann: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, tarogato, B-flat clarinet; Kent Kessler: bass; Michael Zerang: drums.