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A Fireside Chat with Joe McPhee

By Published: November 18, 2003

JM: Dominic is a part of it with Bisio, two basses and two horns. I had been playing with Michael Bisio on a couple of occasions. Mike and I did a couple of duet recordings for CIMP and then I met Dominic. It came to pass that a concert came up and Michael was in the area with Dominic and that is how that came about.

FJ: You mentioned a handful of years ago, you were playing more in Europe than you were here in the States, is that still the case?

JM: No and I have to say, Fred, between 1980 and 1994, I virtually didn't play here at all. Part of that may have come from the mistaken idea that I lived in Europe because I played so much there. Then I was invited to play at the Empty Bottle Festival by John Corbett and Ken Vandermark in Chicago and after that, it seemed to open doors for me to play more in this country. Other than that, I played in France in a trio with Raymond Boni and Andr' Jaume. Now, certain things have opened up with Trio X and playing with a group, which also included Dominic, but a different drummer, John Heward from Montreal, called Undersound. We had a sextet at one point that included Dominic, Bisio, Joe Giardullo, Roy Campbell, Jay Rosen, and myself called Urban Assault Vehicle and in some circles people took offense at the word 'assault.'

FJ: People are easily offended. Was the sextet documented?

JM: There was a recording done at the Knitting Factory. I hope at some point it gets out because there is some very interesting stuff there.

FJ: Bob Rusch should be acknowledged for documenting your playing on CIMP, since the majority of your earlier work on the hatOLOGY label has been out of print.

JM: Yeah, including the whole era of solo material. I hope at some point, that is re-released. I've had real success with the Atavistic re-release of the CJR material.

FJ: Is there a reason why you have never played in Los Angeles?

JM: I've never been invited. I know some musicians in the area, but I've never been invited. It is not a closed door. I am one of the members of Peter Br'tzmann's Chicago Tentet and we are planning something. The guys in that Tentet are some of the finest musicians you will ever come across. Also, I am in a quartet called The Thing featuring Mats Gustafsson on reeds, Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, and Ingebrigt H'ker Flaten on bass, plus myself.

FJ: And the future?

JM: The last CJR recording was done in 1974, duets with a synthesizer player, John Snyder. The Atavistic re-release will include a concert from Woodstock in '76 that has never been heard. I am looking forward to that. Another thing that was recorded right after the tour with the Tentet, it's a quartet with Peter Br'tzmann, Michael Zerang, and Kent Kessler. I am playing tenor. It is coming on Hat Hut. It is an album that kind of focuses on ballads. That will be a revelation for people who hear only one side of Br'tzmann. That I am very excited about. I am playing a recording with Raymond Boni of music inspired by Django Reinhardt and dedicated to Sidney Bechet.

Visit Joe McPhee on the web at .

Photo Credit
' Serge Vincent

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