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God help us. An album that sounds like Robin flapping about trying to find his saxophone. One located random notes are blown into it. Actually probably the sort of thing that is adored in this office though today I'm writing the descriptions and with a lack of info about what it actually is I just feel like saying what I want.   

LP £16.49 KYE 47

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Seattle Symphony by Joe McPhee
1 review. Write a review for us »
7/10 Robin Staff review, 12 July 2017

A love letter both to his second home of Seattle and to passing artistic heroes he had in Bill Dixon and Fred Anderson, this lengthy solo excursion sees Joe McPhee stammer emotion through, on and around his horn. Creating sounds on his instrument most could only dream of squeezing out of it, McPhee continues with this record to determine a kind of uncategorised free jazz where the horn played sounds as much like the body that’s holding and squeezing and tapping at it. You can hear him blowing at his lips and holding up his chest as high-register screams and pelts of air move through the room -- with the occasional iterated note to boot.

As ever, McPhee’s sound often becomes lively and flowing, even when no traditional sounds are coming out of his instruments (here a trumpet and an alto in tribute to Anderson). The dramatic shifts in the breathy, ariy sounds produced and his one-note belters is pronounced -- he’s often able to make it sound as if two successive notes come from different corners of the room, such is his attention to volume in these minimal motifs.

McPhee’s shifts in tone and register are dramatic on the record’s flip, where he exchanges his chance trumpet tensions for a rushing, torrential performance on alto. His dramatic exchanges of melodic repetitions and superfast tone-jumping make for a highly dramatic listen; from skroning to softly hushing. It’s loveliness you might not have been expecting from such a fiery improviser, but even at its most formless McPhee has here made a touching tribute to his musical lineage.


Joe McPhee 'Counterflow' (2010) - YouTube


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