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.

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

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
In Pictures
Album Reviews
General Articles
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Read more articles
A Pride Of Lions

A Pride Of Lions

The Bridge Sessions
2018

buy
From Outer Space

From Outer Space

Roaratorio Records
2018

buy
Imaginary Numbers

Imaginary Numbers

Clean Feed Records
2018

buy
Flowers

Flowers

Cipsela Records
2016

buy
Ticonderoga

Ticonderoga

Clean Feed Records
2015

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019
Read Requiem for a New York Slice Album Reviews
Requiem for a New York Slice
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019
Read Trion Album Reviews
Trion
By Dan McClenaghan
April 22, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Jakob Baekgaard
April 22, 2019
Read After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane Album Reviews
After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane
By Jakob Baekgaard
April 21, 2019
Read Cadillac Turns Album Reviews
Cadillac Turns
By Troy Dostert
April 21, 2019