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Joe McPhee / Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: Blue Chicago Blues

Mark Corroto By

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The pairing of saxophonist Joe McPhee and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten seemed inevitable. Both the US-born McPhee and Norwegian Håker Flaten have worked in the same circle of players for years. The Ken Vandermark (Chicago) and Mats Gustafsson (Swedish) connections have made their services valued in varying bands.

This meeting, in Chicago 2007, is a fine bookend to McPhee's duo recording Tomorrow Came Today (Smalltown Superjazz, 2009) with Håker Flaten's longtime collaborator in tThe Thing, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Connoisseurs of improvising sax/bass duos know both artists are skilled at such endeavors. McPhee has recorded duos with the bassists Michael Bisio and Dominic Duval, while Håker Flaten has improvised with Evan Parker and Hakon Kornstad.

While both musicians are proficient at energy jazz, they keep things, for the most part, civilized here. Quite comforting—maybe because the goal was collaborative music-making and not wrestling—there is plenty to explore in this 42- minutes of music. The gentle opener, "Truth In The Abstract Blues," finds McPhee repeating a simple pattern that allows the bassist to wander a bit. McPhee has always been a generous player,and here he never overpowers the music. "Cerulean Mood Swing" follows a sort of glum Albert Ayler saxophone sortie, with Håker Flaten vocalizing while he walks behind McPhee. The stuttering, pecking horn of McPhee is mimicked by the bass on "I Love You Too Little Baby," but the most expressive piece on the disc is "Legend Of The Three Blind Moose," almost whispered by both players. McPhee blows breath through his horn as music, and the bassist gently rubs his instrument, giving a warm fuzzy feeling.

Track Listing: Truth In The Abstract Blues; Cerulean Mood Swing; Requiem For An Empty Heart; I Love You Too Little Baby; The Shape Of Blues To Come; Legend Of The Three Blind Moose.

Personnel: Joe McPhee: saxophone; Ingebrigt Håker Flaten: bass.

Title: Blue Chicago Blues | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: NotTwo Records

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