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Best of 2024

Joe McPhee

Tenor (LP)

Label: Superior Viaduct

Format: LP

Genre: Jazz

Preorder: Release Date: June 28th, 2024


There are lots of outstanding Joe McPhee LPs. Nation Time being chief among them, but there's also Pieces Of Light, Oleo and Topology. The Poughkeepsie, New York-based multi-instrumentalist, by now an international star of free music, has amassed a daunting discography, no doubt. If you want to peer deeply into the soul of Joe McPhee, however, there's no way around it, you need to spend some quality time with Tenor.

" Tenor is McPhee's first solo record. He did not set out to make it. It was an afterthought, quite literally, born of a gathering of friends at the Swiss farmhouse of cellist Michael Overhage. A beautiful meal, some drinks, warm conversation, and ... why not, an impromptu recital. Hat Hut producer Werner X. Uehlinger was there and a year later issued it as McPhee's third LP for the label (Hat Hut C in their famed letter series).

"The existential blues 'Knox' sets the stage, indicating that this will not just be a toss-off postprandial singalong. 'Good-Bye Tom B.' carries on with aching melancholy, through burred notes and hushed harmonics. The relatively jaunty 'Sweet Dragon' is also emotionally loaded with Ayler-esque vibrato, slurs, wipes, and blasts of tone. The side-long title track comes without a theme, as a kind of pure investigation of the horn, its potential, its limits, its expressive capacity. There have been few solo sessions as comprehensive and devastating as this spontaneous after-dinner diversion in rural Switzerland in 1976. We're very lucky someone pressed record."

John Corbett (excerpt from the liner notes)

Cat. number: SV 187
Year: 2024