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Joe McPhee - Mister Peabody Goes To Baltimore

Recorded September 2000 in various locations as part of the High Zero Festival in Baltimore.
The tracks:
Before the Fall – 33:38
Night of the Krell – 15:31
Klatu – 8:46
Homeless – 3:02

The players:
Joe McPhee – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, pocket trumpet, voice
Jack Wright – reeds (track 1)
Ian Nagoski – electronics (track 1)
Michael Johnsen – electronics, soprano saxophone, musical saw (track 2)
Sean Meehan – percussion (track 2)
Jerry Lim – guitar (track 3)
James Coleman – theremin (track 3)

Here’s a useful review by Jason Bivins for One Final Note (October 2002):

“Joe McPhee is an elder statesman of American improvised music, a gregarious person and player whose unique blend of melancholy lyricism and edgy experimentalism justifiably knocks people out.

The first track, the very long “Before the Fall”, doesn’t so much evoke an Edenic state of prelapsarian innocence as it does the continual sense of risk—as if teetering on the edge of a cliff, about to tumble over—that improvisers cherish. And if this track doesn’t always achieve this intensity, it’s not for lack of effort on McPhee’s part. On just pocket trumpet and voice (Joe sings through his horn on much of this piece and, while it doesn’t always work for me, it’s a tantalizing addition to his broad repertoire of instruments), McPhee is in dialogue with mad scientist Jack Wright here […] Electronician Ian Nagoski has some interesting moments near the beginning but then just lets a drone percolate nearly unaltered for much of the piece.[…]

“Night of the Krell” is much more like it, a vortex of echo-chamber sounds and ominous noises. McPhee’s keening horns mesh wonderfully with the whines, rumbles, and scrapes of Sean Meehan and Michael Johnsen, both of whom play marvelously here. But the highlight of the disc for me is the too-brief “Klatu”, with Jerry Lim’s cranky guitar and James Coleman’s superbly alien theremin playing. They get into any number of spaces in eight minutes, from hot and caustic to clattery and cluttered to remote and reserved. The disc closes out with a lovely miniature piece that features McPhee playing trumpet on a bridge, with the sound of cars going by an unexpectedly pleasant accompaniment. Though it’s got some highs and lows, McPhee freaks will want to seek this one out.”

Label: Recorded / 005
Artist: Joe McPhee
Medium: CD
Category: .


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