Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Joe McPhee / Pascal Niggenkemper / Ståle Liavik Solberg: Imaginary Numbers

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Veteran multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee always seems open to encounters with like-minded spirits wherever he finds them. Some of his finest albums have stemmed from his collaborations with groups of younger musicians, such as Spontaneous Combustion (Otoroku, 2015) with Decoy and Skullduggery (Clean Feed, 2015) with Universal Indians. On Imaginary Numbers he teams up with two high-profile European improvisers, New York-based German-French bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and Norwegian drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg. Both are adept at the arcane blend of improv texture and post-free pulsation within which McPhee excels.

They follow a satisfying narrative arc through three seat-of-the-pants navigations which take them across diverse territories including extemporized airs, tender dirge, and fiery rapture. For McPhee, pursuing a melodic bent against a churn of clanking momentum remains a favorite gambit and one that functions as effectively as ever here. McPhee is a consummate purveyor of the post-Ayler New Thing. He demonstrates fearsome control of dynamics, reveling in dissonance and skronk, but is never afraid to dial back the intensity to allow new ideas to develop.

Niggenkemper has become one of the most adventurous bassists plying his trade in NYC, uniting timbral exploration with Big Apple attitude. He combines well with Solberg to create an unruly rattling and thwacking undercurrent which keeps McPhee on his toes. The drummer's tumbling percussive style, builds on the work of progenitors such as Paul Lovens and Tony Oxley, readily maintaining a pulse while avoiding precise metric demarcation.

At 23-minutes, "i" is by far the longest cut and illustrates the empathy between the three men. It opens with a marvelously spacious but spiky dialogue, through which McPhee weaves impressionistic pocket trumpet smears. One particularly noteworthy moment arises from the commingling of McPhee's upper register trumpet and Niggenkemper's wiry arco, all anchored by a thudding clatter from Solberg which recalls Milford Graves in its earthy tonality. But it is to tenor saxophone that McPhee turns when he means business, characteristically juxtaposing lyricism and glossolalia, and then when all else falls silent indulging in spine-tingling vocalized overtones.

Even in his late 70s, McPhee hasn't lost his appetite for risk-taking and, as this disc shows, the rewards can be substantial.

Track Listing: i; A; Zero Supreme Love.

Personnel: Joe McPhee: pocket trumpet, tenor saxophone; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass; Ståle Liavik Solberg: drums.

Title: Imaginary Numbers | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

In Pictures
Album Reviews
General Articles
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
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
Solos : The Lost Tapes (1980 – 1981 – 1984)

Solos : The Lost...

Roaratorio Records
2015

buy

Shop

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

Related Articles

Read East Of The River Nile Album Reviews
East Of The River Nile
By Chris May
February 23, 2019
Read VOX Album Reviews
VOX
By Friedrich Kunzmann
February 23, 2019
Read live@ZKM Album Reviews
live@ZKM
By Bruce Lindsay
February 23, 2019
Read cinder: ember: ashes Album Reviews
cinder: ember: ashes
By Glenn Astarita
February 23, 2019
Read Amour Album Reviews
Amour
By Doug Collette
February 23, 2019
Read Friendly Signs Album Reviews
Friendly Signs
By Don Phipps
February 22, 2019
Read The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes Album Reviews
The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes
By Roger Farbey
February 22, 2019