Sunday, November 28, 2004

Joe McPhee

Joe McPhee

The structure of a jazz performance is, like that of the New York skyline, a tension of cross-purposes. In jazz at its characteristic best, each player seems to be—and has the sense of being—on his own. Each goes his own way, inventing rhythmic and melodic patterns which, superficially, seem to have as little relevance to one another as the United Nations building does to the Empire State. And yet the outcome is a dazzlingly precise creative unity.
John A. Kouwenhoven

Since first emerging in the late '60s, Joe McPhee has been heralded as one of jazz's most talented multi-instrumentalists and greatest improvisers.

Many of McPhee's early recordings as a bandleader, including Underground Railroad (1969), Nation Time (1970), and Trinity (1971) (all originally on the obscure CjR label), are informed by the Black Power movement of the '60s and '70s. Underground Railroad, pointedly "dedicated to the black experience on planet Earth," virtually disappeared on impact, as only 500 copies were ever pressed, but thanks to Atavistic's "Unheard Music" series, it's available once again, along a special bonus section documenting McPhee's public debut on the tenor sax during an inspired afternoon performance with his larger group, the Contemporary Improvisational Ensemble, at the same New York monastery where he would record Underground Railroad
six months later.

Nation Time


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