Joe McPhee

Survival Unit II: At WBAI's Free Music Store

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The Hat Art label was formed in the mid-'70s partly to document the music of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. The tapes of this live concert, which was broadcast by the small New York radio station WBAI, were released for the first time on this 1996 CD. Doubling on tenor and trumpet, McPhee is joined by Clifford Thornton (heard on baritone horn and cornet), Byron Morris (on soprano and alto), pianist Mike Kull, and percussionist Harold E. Smith. Due to the passionate nature of much of this fairly free music and the use of Thornton's baritone horn, one does not really notice the absence of a string bass. The six lengthy pieces (which are sandwiched by somewhat stilted announcing) are full of fire but also have their quiet and lyrical moments. A strong all-around performance that should not have taken 25 years to release.

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