Joe McPhee: Nation Time
Two of these three long tracks were recorded at a concert at Vassar College on December 12, 1970: "Nation Time" and "Scorpio's Dance." Featuring the electric piano of Mike Kull and the relentless percussion of Bruce Thompson and Ernest Bostic, there is a definite hint of rock in the music. McPhee also, especially on "Nation Time," plays with a burred r&b tenor tone reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's much-imitated sound on Ornette on Tenor. And also like the music on that album, the groove isn't constant. Although it's a stronger one than Ornette ever favored at that time, it's elastic enough to give way to periods where McPhee and Kull solo searchingly in empty space. Indeed, one of the most exciting things about this album is the sense of space. Although all three of these tracks are quite propulsive, McPhee and his men are imaginative enough to continue to refresh them with rhythmic and other variations.
"Shakey Jake," recorded in a studio the next day, adds an alto saxophonist, an organist, and an electric guitarist. The electric guitarist plays in the mode of many players in the nascent fusion movement of those days, so this track's flavor fits right in with the other two: free r&b of a style more musically adventurous than that made famous by Miles Davis, but still full of enough hooks to wow the crowd.
And wow the crowd it did. Thirty years later, it's still just as powerful.
Track Listing: Nation Time / Shakey Jake / Scorpio's Dance
Personnel: Joe McPhee, ts, tpt; Mike Kull, p, el p; Tyrone Crabb, ac b, el b, tpt; Bruce Thompson and Ernest Bostic, perc. On "Shakey Jake": Otis Greene, as; Herbie Lehman, org; Dave Jones, el g.
Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide
Style: Modern Jazz