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Best of 2024

Joe McPhee

Black Magic Man

Label: Superior Viaduct

Format: LP

Genre: Jazz

Preorder: Release Date: June 28th, 2024


Black Magic Man is arguably the pivotal Joe McPhee release. It bridged the span between the regional and the international, bypassing the national altogether. "Recorded in the same sessions that produced Nation Time, Black Magic Man consists of music not chosen for that LP. Like its much-feted sister, technically it falls under the domain of CjR, Craig Johnson's herculean effort in support of McPhee. An erstwhile painter, Johnson became a self-taught audio engineer, acquiring equipment expressly to document McPhee's music. In December 1970, five years after Johnson and McPhee had met, they recorded two days of activity – a concert followed by an additional day of recordings – at Vassar College where McPhee was teaching in the Black Studies department. About half of the material was used to make Nation Time. While they had planned to issue a follow-up, the money wasn't there, so the tapes sat dormant.

"Fast-forward five years – Werner X. Uehlinger, a Swiss businessman who worked for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, contacted Johnson while on a trip to the US, and over dinner with McPhee, they discussed putting out some of the unused tracks from the Nation Time sessions. With this casual encounter in 1975, Hat Hut Records was inaugurated. The new label's maiden release was Black Magic Man, dubbed Hat Hut A, the first in what would become Hat Hut's letter series. Along the way, the series would feature seven Joe McPhee records, including the first four in a row."

John Corbett (excerpt from the liner notes)

Cat. number: SV 185
Year: 2024