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

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Beloved" CD/LP/Track Review Beloved
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Burn The Boat" CD/LP/Track Review Burn The Boat
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "The Long Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Journey Home
by James Nadal
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends" CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Rímur" CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 14, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor