Taking its title from the classic jazz book by Valerie Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life is a solo recording wherein multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee deeply explores various facets and territories in the music. He begins with a sad, heartfelt tribute on pocket cornet to the late Miles Davis and includes homages to musicians from Sun Ra to Coltrane to Conlon Nancarrow. McPhee freely uses overdubbing, either accompanying himself on various wind instruments or, as on the fascinating version of Gershwin's "The Man I Love," with percolating electronics reminiscent of South African mbira music. His blues-drenched tenor playing on this piece takes it to realms undreamt of by its creator. This foundation in the blues is one of the things separating McPhee from many contemporaries plumbing the freer areas of jazz, and it serves him very well. Few of his peers could pull off the devastating rendition of Coltrane's "After the Rain" that McPhee, on soprano, does here. As Serious as Your Life offers a fairly wide picture of the range of his talents and creative genius, and is arguably the finest of his solo recordings. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick