Tag Archives: Sonic Elements

Jazzword review by Ken Waxman

CF 278Joe McPhee – Sonic Elements (CF 278)
While solo sessions have multiplied over the past few years, one person who was experimenting with the singular form as long ago as 1976 is multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. Sonic Elements Clean Feed CF 278 CD is his most recent set in that genre. Demonstrating the breath of his skill, he divides this 41-minute live set in half, improvising on pocket trumpet in honor of Don Cherry at the beginning, and concluding with a salute to Ornette Coleman on alto saxophone. That said McPhee doesn’t replicate any Coleman or Cherry licks during the performance. Instead he creates distinctive sound picture of each individual. With “Wind-Water” McPhee’s Cherry snapshot is built up from plain air pops, watery growls and spiraling grace notes. When the output swerves into tonality a mellow melody appears only to be deconstructed with staccato guffaws, sharp whistles and vocal murmurs. An extended final sequence is balanced with vocal cries and whispers that help illuminate the dedicatee’s heartfelt struggle for peace. Meanwhile, if anything “Earth/Fire-Old Eyes” proves that Coleman’s purported wild experimentation is based on the bedrock of jazz: blues and work songs. Using maximum emotionalism and minimal notes here, the saxophonist’s initial tongue slaps and altissimo cries give way to a sequence which includes foot-stomping percussiveness and a theme that could practically be a pre-Emancipation song of celebration. As the countrified line is hardened, tremolo echoes, reminiscent of primitive bagpipe or concertina airs confirm this connection. The climax occurs as sharp, staccato interjections and the composition’s sweet, yearning textures become one and the same.

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Best of 2013 Jazz.PT

Melhores de 2013 – Jazz.PT
Aqui estão as escolhas da equipa jazz.pt relativas a mais um ano de música, em disco e ao vivo. São estas as nossas votações finais, bem como as listas individuais dos colaboradores que participaram nesta selecção do melhor que foi acontecendo em 12 meses repletos de bom jazz e boa improvisação. Boas festas e continuem a passar por estas páginas.

Melhores discos internacionais
CF 283WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET: “WITHOUT A NET” (BLUE NOTE)
Charles Lloyd / Jason Moran: “Hagar´s Song” (ECM)
São Paulo Undergound: “Beija Flors Velho e Sujo” (Cuneiform)
Matana Roberts: “Coin Coin: Chapter Two: Missisippi Moonchile” (Constellation)
Pascal Niggenkemper Vision7: “Lucky Prime” (Clean Feed)
Wadada Leo Smith & TUMO: “Occupy the World” (TUM)
CF 278Joe McPhee: “Sonic Elements” (Clean Feed)
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil: “Shadow Man” (ECM)
Nate Wooley: “Seven Storey Mountain III and IV” (Text)
Trespass Trio & Joe McPhee: “Human Encore” (Clean Feed)
Lotte Anker / Rodrigo Pinheiro / Hernâni Faustino: “Birthmark” (Clean Feed)

Melhores discos nacionais
CF 281RED TRIO: “REBENTO” (NOBUSINESS)
Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Jeb Bishop: “The Flame Alphabet” (Not Two)
Susana Santos Silva / Torbjörn Zetterberg: “Almost Tomorrow” (Clean Feed)
Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet: “Live in Madison” (Ayler Records)
CF 275Lama & Chris Speed: “Lamaçal” (Clean Feed)
Timespine: “Timespine” (Shhpuma)
Big Bold Back Bone: “Clouds Clues” (Wide Ear)
Joana Sá: “Elogio da Desordem” (Shhpuma)
João Hasselberg: “Whatever It Is You’re Seeking, Won’t Come in the Form You’re Expecting” (Sintoma Records)
Nelson Cascais Decateto: “A Evolução da Forma” (Sintoma Records)
João Firmino: “A Casa da Árvore” (Sintoma Records)
Ernesto Rodrigues / Ricardo Guerreiro / Christian Wolfarth: “All About Mimi” (Creative Sources)
João Paulo Esteves da Silva & Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos: “Bela Senão Sem” (TOAP/OJM)
SHH 007Eduardo Raon: “On the Drive for Impulsive Actions” (Shhpuma)
Eitr: “Trees Have Cancer Too” (Mazagran)
Joana Sá / Luís José Martins: “Almost a Song” (Shhpuma)
Le Syndicat & Sektor 304: “Geometry of Chromium Skin” (Rotorelief)
Luís Vicente / Jari Marjamaki: “Alternate Translations” (MiMi Records)

Melhores reedições
KEITH JARRETT: “CONCERTS: BREGENZ/MUNCHEN” (ECM)

Melhores concertos
EVAN PARKER (JAZZ AO CENTRO – ENCONTROS INTERNACIONAIS DE JAZZ DE COIMBRA)
Peter Evans Octet (Jazz em Agosto)
The Thing XXL (Jazz em Agosto)
John Zorn Electric Masada (Jazz em Agosto)
Anthony Braxton Falling River Music Quartet (Jazz em Agosto)
Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans (Teatro Maria Matos)
Zanussi 5 (Jazz ao Centro – Encontros Internacionais de Jazz de Coimbra)
Hugo Antunes / Carlos “Zíngaro” / Miguel Mira (Espaço APAV & Cultura)
Elephant9 feat. Reine Fiske (Jazz em Agosto)

Melhores músicos ou grupos internacionais
Jason Moran, Okkyung Lee, John Zorn, Fire! Orchestra/Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy New Orchestra, Burkhard Stangl, Wadada Leo Smith.

Melhores músicos ou grupos nacionais
Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio, Sei Miguel, Gabriel Ferrandini, Susana Santos Silva, Hugo Antunes, Clocks and Clouds, Rodrigo Pinheiro.

Acontecimento do ano
A polémica entrevista concedida por Rui Neves, programador do Jazz em Agosto, à Rua de Baixo, conduzida por Pedro Tavares, também colaborador da jazz.pt.

http://jazz.pt/artigos/2013/12/15/melhores-de-2013/

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JazzMag review by Philippe Carles

McPhee_JazzMag

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Jazznews review by Thierry Lepin

CF269-278_Jazz-News

Jazz.pt review by Nuno Catarino

CF 278Joe McPhee – Sonic Elements (CF 278)
*****
Visitante regular do nosso país, Joe McPhee tem-se apresentado com diversas formações. Tocou em Lisboa, Porto e Coimbra e chegou até a colaborar com músicos nacionais (integrou um quarteto liderado por Rodrigo Amado, que actuou no Centro Cultural de Belém).

Contudo, o momento mais especial da ligação de McPhee com Portugal terá sido o concerto que deu no Museu Machado de Castro, em Coimbra. Integrada no festival Jazz ao Centro 2009, essa prestação não só mostrou a versatilidade instrumental do multi-instrumentista americano, como a capacidade emotiva da sua música. Aquele solo absoluto foi uma experiência quase religiosa, quase transcendente.

Ora, é a solo que McPhee surge neste disco, registo de um concerto incluído na edição de 2012 do Festival de Jazz de Ljubliana. A actuação divide-se em duas partes (ou “episódios”), cada uma delas dedicada a um herói pessoal do músico (ele próprio uma lenda viva para as gerações contemporâneas). A primeira metade do disco é um tributo a Don Cherry e nela McPhee utiliza o mesmo instrumento que tinha as preferências de Cherry, o trompete de bolso.

O CD começa com uma toada quase silenciosa, com McPhee a explorar o seu “pocket” de forma quase subliminar, num sopro ténue e contido. Mais à frente passa a explorar efeitos, servindo-se, sobretudo, da voz processada pelo metal. Quase sempre textural e atmosférica, esta música encontra paralelo em alguns trabalhos do próprio homenageado. Esta primeira parte do disco engloba dois elementos, “Wind” e “Water” (a explicação do título).

A segunda metade é dedicada a Ornette Coleman, com uma substituição do trompete para o saxofone alto. Joe McPhee começa com um discurso ondulante, evocativo de Ornette, embora evolua livremente, transformando-se. Há uma rápida mudança de ambiente e ficamos perante uma toada mais lenta e de assumido carácter melódico, que se traduz numa abordagem emotiva – quase que se imagina Albert Ayler.

Menos textural que a primeira metade, esta segunda assenta mais no tonalismo improvisado de McPhee, que aqui disserta sobre outros dois elementos – “Earth” e “Fire” – e ainda repesca um antigo tema. Chega-se a incluir até algum “groove”, encerrando o disco com um regresso à emoção ayleriana, agora de forma mais trémula. Essa melodia sentimental, evocada em dois momentos diferentes, vem desse referido tema, “Old Eyes”.

McPhee continua a exibir a sua profunda vitalidade musical, colaborando com projectos enérgicos de músicos mais jovens, como The Thing e, mais recentemente, o nórdico Trespass Trio (também recomendável). A solo, relembra-nos as suas enormes imaginação e capacidade criativa. Esta gravação serve, assim, para voltarmos a celebrar a sua dimensão e contínua relevância, como figura tutelar do jazz criativo contemporâneo.
http://www.jazz.pt/ponto-escuta/2013/08/29/joe-mcphee-sonic-elements-clean-feed/

The New York City Jazz Record review by Robert Iannapollo

CF 278Joe McPhee – Sonic Elements (CF 278)
Trespass Trio + Joe McPhee – Human Encore (CF 269)
At the age of 73, multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee shows no signs of slowing down. Since his re-emergence to full-time recording in the mid ‘90s, he has jumped from project to project with little respite.

Even though McPhee began on trumpet, the saxophone is the instrument with which most people associate him. He primarily plays tenor but has increasingly made his mark on alto. Sonic Elements is alive set from the 2012 Ljubljana Festival, half played on pocket trumpet and dedicated to Don Cherry and the other on alto, celebrating Ornette Coleman. McPhee’s trumpet is all about breath and squeezing unheard sounds out of the instrument. He employs subtle valve pops, siren-like squeaks and vocalization within a wide dynamic range. Bill Dixon is a prime influence but the spectre of Cherry can also be heard in his bright and feathery upper register lines. On alto, McPhee employs the rich, full sound he brings to his tenor. Towards the end of the Coleman set McPhee plays his classic tune “Old Eyes”, a song he wrote in the late ‘70s and dedicated to Coleman (who gave McPhee a trumpet when the younger player was coming up).

CF 269McPhee is a consummate collaborator. He has always added his individuality to groups from Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet to Other Dimensions In Music. Saxophonist Martin Küchen tapped McPhee as a foil on the Trespass Trio’s third album, Human Encore, recorded in 2012 at a concert in Coimbra, Portugal. Küchen’s rough-hewn sound (on alto and baritone) contrasts nicely with McPhee’s stately tenor. When McPhee switches to pocket trumpet, their intertwining is even more pronounced. On the ballad “Xe” Küchen states the melody as McPhee etches a contrapuntal line, then the situation reverses. Bassist Per Zanussi and drummer Raymond Strid (both veterans of the Swedish improvising scene) give the music a wide rhythmic berth and colorful backdrop. The title track has some exceptional four-way interaction, as if McPhee had always been a member of the group.

Free Jazz review by Janus and Karl

CF 278Joe McPhee – Sonic Elements (For Pocket Trumpet and Alto Saxophone) (CF 278)
*****
Being Joe McPhee must be wonderful because with his music he has the ability to touch the most delicate strings of your heart. In 2011 he opened the third day of the Chicago Tentet+1 residence to celebrate Peter Brötzmann’s 70th birthday at Café Ada in his hometown Wuppertal with a dedication to the late Billy Bang. It was a blues meditation on soprano sax which almost drove the audience to tears.

But being Joe McPhee must be hard work as well. When you’ve still been blowing miracles out of your lungs every day for forty years (and being among a fistful of unbreakable free jazz veterans), when you’ve been constantly promoting the logical evolution of your lifetime’s musical paths as much as you’ve been getting involved in a countless number of embodiments in the musical scenario without boundaries, there must have been some kind of strange and strong fluid running through your veins. One day you’re on stage guiding the transcendent guitar feedbacks of some rock outsider, the other day you team up with some polyhydric noise creator, or you are just spending a two-day-residence-gig melting in the glorious “dirty Chicago Tentet” at Café Oto driven by one of your old comrades. No time to mess around!

So what happens when you are alone with your horns and brasses again? When your sound is so unveiled after so much time and so many experiments? Well, see above.

McPhee is in no hurry, he takes all the time he needs to warm up his instrument like a kid getting confident with his new toy (he!). On his new album “Sonic Elements” the dedication of “Episode One” to Don Cherry is rather to be intended as a homage to a trailblazer in the use of the pocket trumpet as improvising instrument than a reference to the grand old trumpeter. McPhee silently inflates the pipes, enjoying every single rasp coming from his breath coalescing in shrieking clusters, slap-tonguing on the mouthpiece, clawing the metal and murmuring. The evolved phrases of his musical speech coming after this long intense prelude seems to come from a sort of second adult self replacing the former embryonic one.

Following this imaginary path of growth doesn’t surprise the use of the voice filtered through the instrument, as a new step of evolution and conscience. If the artist already faced two of the four classical elements (“Air” in the first minutes of this sonic journey and “Earth” through the human voice) the closing minutes are plunged in the “Water”. The musical fluid flows along the piston valves, the “Air” pulls back among the dropping sizzle of the overstuffed pipes. McPhee preserves the clash of “Earth” and “Fire” for his beloved blues and alto sax and dedicates “Episode Two” to Ornette Coleman – and what a majestic and outstanding blues manifesto it is indeed! But not necessarily in the case of Coleman’s Texas blues feeling (or his harmolodics), even if the track starts like it. McPhee triggers off light-footed lines displaying his incredible musicianship on the instrument (but there is definitely no showing off) before he turns to a Steve-Reich-like minimalism, to repetitive phrases, and hoarse croaking. He even produces rock phrases in this wild, yet elegant mix before he intersperses pointed trills, wild runs, and desperate cries only to return to minimalist phrases again. The cement that holds everything together is his down-to-earth Mississippi blues sound, these beautiful dark lines which are so fragile that they seem to be torn apart, in its foot-dragging this music is of the utmost beauty and melancholy.

The album was recorded at Cankarjew Dom, a concert hall in Ljubljana/Slovenia in 2012. It is one of the most fabulous recent solo recordings and we highly recommend it, because being Joe McPhee is most of all being pure joy for all the listeners.
http://www.freejazzblog.org/2013/08/joe-mcphee-sonic-elements-for-pocket.html