156

Joe McPhee / Michael Zerang: Creole Gardens (A New Orleans Suite)

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
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 to draw upon, not least their 13 years together as integral parts of Peter Brötzmann's Chicago Tentet, and Zerang's role within McPhee's Survival Unit III trio. But it's not only about familiarity; a large degree of the success of this 60-minute live date recorded in New Orleans stems from how attuned they are to each other's intent. Zerang, in particular, probes, prods and cossets, bringing all his rhythmic acumen to bear. His easy paced tumbling cadences with their abundant pockets of space provide fertile soil in which McPhee can cultivate his patented mix of visceral abstractions and extemporized melodicism.

McPhee continues to develop his use of vocalizations simultaneous with his playing. Used sparingly they pack a profound emotional kick, ranging from screams and overtones to choked cries. At the 15-minute mark in "Congo Square Dances / Saints and Sinners," the saxophonist's hummed melodic line parallels a wavering whistle to invoke a touching vulnerability. At the start of the same piece, the pair illustrates a simpatico attitude to timbral exploration, the drummer accompanying McPhee's stuttering pocket trumpet with eerie moans created by dragging scrapers across his drum heads.

It's an approach which recurs throughout. "The Drummer-Who-Sits-On-The-Drum" opens with keypad popping percussiveness matched by Zerang's tappy propulsion, before unfurling into a driving saxophone motif. McPhee's cooption of improvised figures out of which he conjures satisfying creations is best shown on "Crescent City Lullaby" where his a capella alto arpeggios gradually link into a plaintive song, referenced time and again through the ensuing improvisation.

Track Listing

Congo Square Dances / Saints and Sinners; Rise / After The Flood; Crescent City Lullaby; And Now Miss Annie, The Black Queen; The Drummer-Who-Sits-On-The-Drum.

Personnel

Joe McPhee: alto saxophone, pocket trumpet; Michael Zerang: drums.

Album information

Title: Creole Gardens (A New Orleans Suite) | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Watch

Tags

View events near New Orleans
Jazz Near New Orleans
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.


MUSICSTACK

Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers

AMAZON

CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more

HD TRACKS

Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads

CD UNIVERSE

Specializing in music, movies and video games

REVERB

Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

More

Read GMQ
GMQ
Geoff Mason
Read For Now
For Now
Brian Landrus
Read Welcome Adventure Vol. 1
Welcome Adventure Vol. 1
Daniel Carter, Matthew Shipp. William Parker, Gerald Cleaver