Joe McPhee

Legend Street One

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Recorded over two days in 1996, Joe McPhee's quartet with saxophonist Frank Lowe, violinist David Prentice, and drummer Charles Moffett put together an album that firmly encompasses all the different Joe McPhees there are on the planet. On "What We Do," McPhee and company take in the striated harmonic soundscapes that he learned from Ornette Coleman, as he and Prentice go head to head for much of the tune with Lowe shifting the balances and Moffett keeping the movement on track. On "July the 13th," McPhee brings to bear the soulful balladry and blues imagery that were such an important part of his early music. It's true that the current forms are transmuted, offering glimpses of the newer tonal frontiers he has encountered, but the sonorities aside, the feeling of the music remains, with a similar emphasis placed on timbres that highlight rather than consume either a melodic line or an improvisation. On Lowe's "Loweville," the dense, arpegiatted front line that Moffett has such a ball taking apart and putting back together, it's bebop and swing that hang in the balance as music that has informed and bequeathed a legacy to McPhee. This ensemble, with their extended dimensionality in Prentice, travels the earth and space ways with great elegance, a funky strut, and an air of erudition that only the masters can muster.

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