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...

331

Joe McPhee: Survival Unit II with Clifford Thornton, N.Y. N.Y. 1971

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Without quesion, Joe McPhee is an American national treasure, and this recording offers proof that the idiosyncratic free jazz icon been one for over thirty years now. This disc documents a radio broadcast from at a time when the US was undergoing political and cultural upheavals, and the music is both reflective of such a time and the product of a proudly singular musical intelligence. The three announcements which were part of the original recording amount to just 1:43 out of a total playing time of almost 79 minutes.

The absence of a bass lends this quintet music a light and airy feel, even at its most heated moments, as on the lengthy "Nation Time," where McPhee proves he was able to blow up a storm with the best of the tenor players, and Byron Morris proves himself a worthy musician on soprano, though he has sadly escaped the attentions of posterity. Baritone horn player Clifford Thornton brings his own weirdly stately but deeply satisfying approach to bear here as well.

"Song For Lauren" is an example of a sort of lyricism that has arguably been downgraded in McPhee's music in more recent times, but it reveals what a multifaceted composer and musician he can be. This is just as it should be with any national treasure.

Pianist Mike Kull's work is, in its way, just as fascinating as that of any of the musicians here. His distance from Cecil Taylor's rolling thunder is as pronounced as his distance from, say, the insistent minimalism of the mature Mal Waldron. He also manages to avoid every hackneyed phrase in the book. One can't help but wonder what has become of Kull over the decades.

The sound restoration that has effectively brought this music back to life is exemplary enough to satisfy everyone except the most finicky of audiophiles. Besides, its shortcomings lend the music a certain urgency that wouldn't have been preserved in a pristine studio environment. As for the rest of us, this is a great opportunity to check in with McPhee on street level and follow his musical journey chronologically from there. Live a little and savour the challenge.


Track Listing: Announcement 1; Black Magic Man; Announcement 2; Nation Time; Song For Lauren; Announcement 3; Message From Denmark; The Looking Glass I; Harriet.

Personnel: Joe McPhee: tenor saxophone, trumpet; Byron Morris: alto and soprano saxophones; Clifford Thornton: baritone horn; Mike Kull: piano; Harold E. Smith: drums.

Title: Survival Unit II with Clifford Thornton, N.Y. N.Y. 1971 | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Hatology

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Book Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
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

Related Articles

Read Drum Solos For Dancers Only CD/LP/Track Review
Drum Solos For Dancers Only
by David A. Orthmann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura CD/LP/Track Review
Kikoeru - Tribute to Masaya Kimura
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 18, 2018
Read His Flight's At Ten CD/LP/Track Review
His Flight's At Ten
by John Sharpe
Published: December 18, 2018
Read First Lines CD/LP/Track Review
First Lines
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 18, 2018
Read Live At Cafe Amores CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Cafe Amores
by John Sharpe
Published: December 18, 2018
Read The Tale CD/LP/Track Review
The Tale
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 17, 2018
Read "Christian McBride's New Jawn" CD/LP/Track Review Christian McBride's New Jawn
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 28, 2018
Read "Manhattan Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Manhattan Sunset
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "The Dream Thief" CD/LP/Track Review The Dream Thief
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 19, 2018
Read "Alive" CD/LP/Track Review Alive
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers" CD/LP/Track Review Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 4, 2018