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.
The stars in my saxophone constellation from my teens into my twenties were: Johnny Hodges/LesterYoung -> John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy -> Evan Parker.
I’d always see Joe Mcphee’s albums on HatArt at the record store, but for some reason he didn’t really enter my area of interest. I guess he didn’t get as much press in the magazines I was reading at the time.
I was missing out, and am trying to make up for my oversight by listening to more of his recorded output these days.
The Damage is Done by McPhee/Brötzmann/Kessler/Zerang.
An early tendency towards noir jazz, encouraged by Mr Kessler’s bass lines, leads towards some pleasantly lyrical passages from Brötzmann. However, when McPhee switches to Tenor, about 20 minutes in, the take-no-prisoners, two Tenor skronk-fest you were hoping for materializes. Invigorating.
John Dikeman, Jon Rune Strøm and Tollef Østvang choose as the name of their trio the title of an Albert Ayler’s composition, “Universal Indians”, because of its double symbolism. The purpose was to inspire their playing in the free jazz patrimony of the likes of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and Ayler himself, and for all effects art and culture in our time are more and more global adoptions (“universal”) of singularities(“indians”). But in what refers to symbols they go even further – in “Skullduggery” they have the partnership of another one of the “new thing” mavericks, Joe McPhee. Now, you may ask: is this a nostalgic celebration of the past, with the same kind of revisionist perspectives we find in present recuperations of the bebop formats? No. That wouldn’t be possible with the involvement of someone like McPhee, even if the American relocated in Amsterdam and the two Norwegian improvisers wanted it, and they don’t. Their guest is widely known for his achievements in renewing the free subgenre, and in his path he made important contributions to other music practices, namely Pauline Olivero’s deep listening electro-acoustic concepts, Nihilist Spasm Band’s radical brand of noise and the jam rock of The Thing with Cato Salsa Experience. This CD reflects that openness and what you have here is the free jazz after free jazz. Intrigued enough?