Portugal is one of the most free-jazz friendly countries on the planet, and the innovative Clean Feed label is one of the reasons why. With over two hundred releases thus far, Clean Feed has been documenting the next wave(s) of avant-free music. This includes the mighty Trespass Trio, a powerhouse group of improvisers consisting of Swedish saxophonist Martin Küchen, Norwegian double bassist Per Zanussi, and Swedish drummer Raymond Strid. Clean Feed released Trespass Trio's debut Was There to Illuminate the Night Sky (2009), their follow-up Bruder Beda (2012), and now the stellar Human Encore. The album features the trio with ...read more
Richard Hell, Arto Lindsay, The Thing Guggenheim Museum Nation Time New York, NY November 20, 2013 Over the course of three forms of media and four decades, Amiri Baraka stretched his way into New York's Guggenheim Museum. A poem he penned more than 40 years ago found its path into the venerable visual arts institution via the music of Joe McPhee, which in turn inspired a response from painter Christopher Wool. In a roundabout way, then, Baraka gave Wool the name for the retrospective on view through January 22. The poem was ...read more
Red Groove Chris Searle 283 pages ISBN: 978-1907869495 Five Leaves 2013 The life story of poet, teacher, author and activist Chris Searle is as intriguing as that of many of the musicians he discusses in Red Groove. Teaching at an inner city school in London in the early seventies, Searle encouraged his pupils to write poems about their lives and then published the results. An active trades unionist, Searle was a thorn in the side of the local education committee and this was used as an excuse to ...read more
Ernest Hemingway might have said it best: All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." For musician Joe McPhee, delivering that one true sentence has been his motivation since the 1960s.An in-demand improviser, he can be heard in multiple settings including the bands of Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark, as a guest of the Deep Listening Band, Trespass Trio and Decoy, and with the rock band, Cato Salsa Experience. He maintains his longstanding association with Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen in Trio X, and can also be heard in ...read more
Food scientists know that human taste buds favor three items, sweet, salty and fat. Although abundant today, our prehistoric ancestors scavenged for these scarce commodities. A musical arranger, like a great chef, can serve up delectable music by skillfully combining the three tastes.Our chef, the musical impresario Ken Vandermark, organized this nonet tribute to Joe McPhee and his influential music by inviting the great man to record with eight Chicago musicians. All would probably name McPhee as their personal demigod. Vandermark presents McPhee's music and his arrangements for the TOPOLOGY Nonet. The draw here is Vandermark's talent for ...read more
Sweden-based Trespass Trio aligns with American improvising legend Joe McPhee for a live set, recorded 2012 at Salao Brazil. The artists' camaraderie, gamesmanship, and intuitive synergy become quite evident from the onset. From a holistic perspective, the band's rugged approach balances a prevalent degree of experimentation with familiar modern jazz terrain. Indeed, an audience-pleaser; even by free jazz conventions, the players render a cornucopia of disparate angles and propositions. A Different Kodo" is immersed in a free-bop modality. Drummer Raymond Strid kicks it off with a bristling groove, followed by Martin Kuchen's serrated alto saxophone lines within ...read more
He could have easily chosen a different path: a more successful one or, perhaps we should say, a more commercial one. But that has never been the style or the character of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. His saint-like humility reflects a gentle and wise creative spirit; his music and poetry are a mirror into the human condition. He has never catered to the shortsighted vision of industry trends, and he expresses himself with a language that is in tune within his innermost spiritual beauty. To imagine an artist that could create from aspects of romanticism, abstraction, impressionism, modernism, realism, ...read more
Veteran multi-reedman, trumpeter and consummate improviser Joe McPhee--along with Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten--serenades Brooklyn, NY, with allusions to tenor sax titan Sonny Rollins' historic practice sessions under the Brooklyn Bridge and other inferences from the days of yore, on Brooklyn DNA. In recent years, the borough has enjoyed a bit of momentum with its chic restaurants and music venues, while serving as the residential area of choice for many artists. This duo's intimacy and like-minded communion of musical spirits offer an upbeat and rather complex chain of musical events articulated with lyrically rich song forms and journeys into the ...read more
Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III with Evan ParkerCafé OtoLondonMarch 23, 2012Over the past three years north London's Cafe Oto has built a solid, predominantly young audience for adventurous music. Part of the secret has been programming world class talent over multiple nights and pairing them with the cream of the capital's improvisers, many of whom deserve the world-class epithet in their own right. That was certainly the case this Friday evening, on the cusp of spring, when composer/multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III were joined by saxophone magus Evan Parker for a concert of scintillating ...read more
Although at an age when many might be happier looking to past glories, multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee still seeks new answers to the questions posed by music-making on the fly. Given the success of the solutions proffered in the concert which produced the acclaimed Oto (Bo Weavil, 2009), it was only a matter of time before the older man reconvened with British group Decoy to see if there were yet more resolutions to be found. Stopping off in London en route to the Peter Brötzmann Long Story Short celebration at the 2011 Wels Festival in Austria, the American found time for ...read more
In these recessionary times, the duet offers the optimum solution: the opportunity for dialogue and interaction, but with logistics and expense kept to a minimum. Of course, such strictures are nothing new for the avant-garde, those flowers which bloom between the cracks in the marginal wastelands. Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee's résumé includes more than its fair share of twosomes, with drummers forming a prominent strand. Recent partners include Hamid Drake, Paul Hession, Paal NIlssen-Love and Chris Corsano, but this encounter with Chicago-based Michael Zerang ranks among the most rewarding. It helps that both have a well of shared experience ...read more
You might expect a musician who has been a steady figure on the creative improvising scene for nearly 45 years to have some variance in their discography and a diverse range of projects and band concepts. Reedman (and sometime pocket trumpeter) Joe McPhee's vast number of recordings and ensembles speak to that impulse, but the curious thing is that there doesn't seem to be a preferred instrumental context for his playing--not really. McPhee's cultish free-funk sides of the early 1970s included electric piano, dual drummers and another saxophonist but eschewed the bass, and his take on the ...read more
Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee has demonstrated a particular affinity for the string bass. Among his discography are multiple duets with Dominic Duval and Michael Bisio, and even a double-disc set with four bassists, Angels, Devils And Haints (CJR, 2008). Now, Blue Chicago Blues can be added to that esteemed catalogue, from a 2007 session recorded in the Windy City with Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, with who the American has collaborated many times as a special guest with The Thing. It's a successful pairing, as evidenced by the cohesive nature of their interactions, which evince a highly charged form and purpose. ...read more
Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee has long favored intimate performing situations that highlight the subtle nuances of timbre, volume and dynamics, confirmed by an extensive discography comprising solo, duo and trio recordings. His duet with Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (Atomic, Scorch Trio, The Thing) on Blue Chicago Blues is a prime example of the sort of spare setting McPhee has championed since the mid-1970s. A veteran of numerous tours with The Thing, McPhee has developed an empathetic rapport with Haker Flaten, making this austere date an interesting companion piece to Tomorrow Came Today (Smalltown Supersound, 2009), McPhee's similarly vibrant duet with ...read more
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