Joe McPhee

Grand Marquis

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Recorded in 1999 in Framingham, MA, this duet between tenor saxophone improvisation giant Joe McPhee and vanguard drummer Johnny McClellan is a testament to the liberating nature of free jazz at its best. Here are two men who, on their respective instruments, experience their musical phrasing in entirely different ways, yet complement each other so wonderfully that it's hard to believe they never played together before this day. McPhee's deep, rich tone and soulful long statements come from equal parts of the deep soul, jazz, and blues of his upbringing -- citing everyone from Ike Quebec and Illinois Jacquet to Arnett Cobb and King Curtis as influences -- to the post-Ascension side of John Coltrane's innovations. McClellan takes his bite from both Elvin Jones and Roy Haynes. Together, they call down the spirits on Grand Marquis, coursing through out-to-lunch tubular investigations of harmonics and tonality where the very physicality of their instruments is called into question. Elsewhere, they meander down emotional vistas of dreamy color in investigations of microtones and melodic invention, interwoven in the cry and bleat of street soul and blues. Anyway you slice it, anyway you hear it, it comes out as honest, emotionally compelling, intellectually stimulating, and musically strident free jazz. Awesome.

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