395

Joe McPhee: Angels, Devils & Haints

Lyn Horton By

Sign in to view read count
Joe McPhee: Angels, Devils & Haints In 1965, Joe McPhee met Donald Ayler by chance in a New York record store. Ayler asked McPhee to join him at a rehearsal where Albert Ayler would be, but unfortunately McPhee was unable to make the rehearsal. That missed opportunity triggered a powerful response in May 2000, when McPhee invited a group of musicians to join him for two concerts in France, entitling them The Albert Ayler Project 2000. Angels, Devils & Haints, a two-volume recording, is the result of the concerts performed in Le Mans and Nantes. Reed and brass player McPhee works together with four bassists, Michael Bisio, Dominic Duval, Claude Tchamitian and Paul Rogers.

The boldness of McPhee's choice to combine saxophones and pocket trumpet with four basses resembles that of one vocalist sharing the stage with an entire orchestra. The first volume attests to the expansiveness of the instrumentation; this side has two pieces, including the fifty-six minute title cut. Each bass plays continually and concurrently. Juxtaposed with the densely interconnected web of bowed intervals, pizzicato phases, and percussiveness are the tonalities of McPhee's tenor, alto and pocket trumpet. The timbres of the horns embody their kinship to the human voice: how it moans, wails or salutes, shows longing, irritation, frustration, strength, weakness, fatigue, fragility, softness or lovingness and speaks with both a feminine and masculine tendency.

McPhee delivers every note with commitment and determination. With incomparable fortitude, the basses behave as a group, embracing McPhee in his aloneness to bolster his strengths, to shape his motifs, to elevate his sense of the music that he, himself, makes. "Angels, Devils And Haints" portrays the vastness of the mysterious Sisyphean journey of living. In a way that only McPhee can crystallize its message, the traditional spiritual, "Goin' Home," concludes the journey, in a heavenly eternity, where forever will be music and its makers.

Volume two addresses—with no less sanctity—other aspects of the "journey" concept through McPhee's gripping, unforgettable solo interpretation of Kern & Hammerstein's "Old Man River." The basses in this performance seem to separate a bit then blatantly conglomerate, while McPhee discovers extraordinary range with the alto, flexing his mastery of vibrato and split tones into distinctive formations. With the trumpet, he hails repetitive figures and steals wah-wahs that dissolve to air, while with the tenor, he taps profound emotion melodically and unreservedly ("Angels And Other Aliens").

Throughout the music, McPhee steps out occasionally to let the basses define their characters, individually or as four personalities within one instrumental boundary. Sometimes the basses become more resonantly talkative than the horn McPhee plays sporadically ("The Gift"). But their five-way conversation never abates, equally through improvisation or tunefulness.

More than a tribute to the Ayler brothers, this recording expresses deep gratitude to Albert, without whose impact, twenty-eight year old trumpeter Joe McPhee might never have picked up the saxophone, much less carved out his own stunning and irrevocable influence on improvised music.

Angels, Devils & Haints lives, unsurpassed.


Track Listing: Volume One: Angels, Devils & Haints; Goin' Home; Volume Two: Ol' Man River; Angels and Other Aliens; The Gift (for Donald Ayler).

Personnel: Joe McPhee: tenor and alto saxophones, pocket trumpet; Michael Bisio: bass; Dominic Duval: bass; Paul Rogers: bass; Claude Tchamitian: bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: CJR | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Now Hear This!" CD/LP/Track Review Now Hear This!
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Under the Influence" CD/LP/Track Review Under the Influence
by Doug Collette
Published: July 2, 2016
Read "Cornua Copiae" CD/LP/Track Review Cornua Copiae
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Cinema Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Cinema Spiral
by John Sharpe
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Open The Curtains" CD/LP/Track Review Open The Curtains
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 16, 2016
Read "The Promise Of Happiness" CD/LP/Track Review The Promise Of Happiness
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!