Joe McPhee

Specific Gravity

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This duo collaboration was recorded in 1997 by radio station WPKN in Bridgeport, CT, and released on CD in 2001. McPhee and Giardullo, two not-so-regular Joes, occupy a very esoteric place on the avant-garde spectrum. Here they meet to explore and update some of Giardullo's theoretical concepts, which were inspired by George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept and first presented on Giardullo's obscure 1981 release, Gravity: Music for Creative Chamber Ensemble. McPhee plays alto clarinet, soprano sax, and valve trombone, while Giardullo plays flute, soprano sax, and bass clarinet; both are credited on electronics. They start with "A Priori," a half-hour-long sonic experiment that ranges from whispered low-register drones to piercing soprano multiphonics. This is followed by Giardullo's far shorter bass clarinet solo, "Specific Gravity," a sparse, dual-soprano reading of John Coltrane's jazz hymn "After the Rain," and the closing "Sienna," a duet for flute and valve trombone. Even the most experienced listeners may not be able to discern what's at stake here theoretically, but in any case, there's much to recommend in this meeting of two highly advanced minds.

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