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DKV & Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time

Mark Corroto By

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Do you participate in the 21st century phenomena called 'binge-watching'? With the advent of Netflix and downloadable television, consumers can view an entire television series in one sitting. Be it eight episodes of Russian Doll or sixty hours of The Wire, it's all available, and the possibilities to feast are tempting. Where a filmmaker might have two hours to create something for the cinema, these series allow a deeper dive into story telling. The same can be said of music, and a release like The Fire Each Time, a 6-CD boxset by DKV & Joe McPhee. Recorded on two different continents and in five different cities—Paris, Poznań, Pardubice, Milwaukee, and Chicago—one disc flows into the next and, before you know it, you've entered a marathon listening session.

Then again, if you are a devotee of DKV, you probably have participated in a marathon session with the trio's 7-CD Past Present (Not Two Records, 2012) and/or the 5-CD Sound In Motion In Sound (Not Two Records, 2014). If you've followed the career of saxophonist Ken Vandermark, you might lament the passing of several of his ensembles including Vandermark 5, Fire Room, Joe Harriott Project, Sound In Action Trio, Powerhouse Sound, School Days, Spaceways Incorporated, and another dozen thrill rides you might have ridden in the past, including his organization of the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet.

It is interesting, and not surprising, that the trio DKV, which formed in 1994, endures. Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Hamid Drake create powerful and—this is somewhat of a rare commodity these days—irresistible free jazz which you find nearly impossible not to shake your rump to. This binge-worthy edition documents a 2017 tour with McPhee. The trio had previously recorded music with guests including Fred Anderson, Joe Morris, and also Mats Gustafsson with his Aaly Trio and The Thing. Certainly each of the trio's musicians has a bond with Joe McPhee, a current elder statesman of free jazz alongside Marshall Allen and Roscoe Mitchell. That alliance is evident throughout. These recordings are dedicated to writer and activist James Baldwin, who is referenced multiple times here with titles that refer to various locations from his life. McPhee repurposes his composition "Nation Time" four times during these live dates and with a poem included in the notes entitled "Nation Time For Real This Time (In The Error Of Trump)."

The music here is free jazz, but free jazz that consistently melds into song form. This is accomplished either through the pulse and push of Drake and Kessler's time keeping or through references (noted as "Impressions Of") to various composers such as Thelonious Monk's "Evidence," Jerome Kern's "Ol' Man River," Don Cherry's "Brown Rice," "George Gershwin}}'s "Summertime" Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" and McPhee's "Nation Time" and "Knox." Not surprisingly, the ESP we have grown to expect between Vandermark, Kessler and Drake expands here with McPhee, and there are no weak moments on these recordings. If we were back in the '60s and living under the rule of major labels, these six discs would have been whittled down to a single (maybe a double) LP. But with our new era, and visionary artist-friendly labels like Marek Winiarski's Not Two Records, binge-worthy marathon listening sessions are accessible.

Track Listing: CD1: Le Select > Chicago Defenders > Nation Time; Rue De Tournon; 201 Chemin du Pilon > IMPRESSIONS OF KNOX: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee; CD2: CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE: Impressions Of A Theme By Thelonious Monk > 100 West Mosholu Parkway South; An Impression of SUMMERTIME by George Gershwin; Ebe Hanim; 137 West 71st Street > Nation Time; An Impression of COME SUNDAY by Duke Ellington; CD3: West 128th Street; CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE: Impression of a theme by Thelonious Monk > NATION TIME; IMPRESSIONS OF KNOX: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee; CD4: L’Abbaye; P.S.24; For Trayvon Martin (Giving Voice To One Which Was Stolen); Les Deux Magots; IMPRESSIONS OF KNOX: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee; CD5: 81 Horatio Street; An Impression of OL' MAN RIVER by Jerome Kern; Leukerbad; IMPRESSIONS OF KNOX: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee; An Impression of BROWN RICE by Don Cherry; CD6: Café de Flore; Saint-Paul-de-Vence; IMPRESSIONS OF KNOX: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee; IMPRESSIONS OF OLD EYES: Variations on a theme by Joe McPhee > Nation Time.

Personnel: Joe McPhee: tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet; Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet; Kent Kessler: bass; Hamid Drake: drums.

Title: The Fire Each Time | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Not Two Records



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The Fire Each Time

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