Songs and Dances by André Jaume / Joe McPhee / Raymond Boni.
I feel like this was one of the first “Free” albums I bought. I love what they did with “The Dock of the Bay”, it is a sort of musical ideal for me. It sounds like they build the tune slowly from its most basic elements, working in the harmonic space of the song. Eventually, the melody coalesces, only once, and then their playing collapses back to chaos. Are they playing the changes? Is that portions of the tune being quoted? It’s all magic, as far as I am concerned.
Their take on “Stompin’ at the Savoy” is even more puzzling. I can’t say to this day what their playing has to do with the song, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, but I try not to think about it too much, as analysis might ruin the magic. I just love how, at the end of 4 and a half minutes of basically free improv, Mr McPhee addresses the audience to say only the name of the tune, “Stompin’ at the Savoy”. Like it is some sort of explanation or totemic incantation which might explain what has gone before.
31 years later, and I still find this album fascinating.
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