A live recording from the 2008 Kongsberg Jazzfestival of the duo of reedist Joe McPhee and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, extraordinary playing from two masters, keeping their listeners on the edge of their seat in insanely great improvisation.
McPhee, Joe / Paal Nilssen-Love
Released in: Norway
"Red Sky comes from folk lore of sailorsill and farmers predicting or forecasting weather. I use it here as a metaphor for looking backward and forward at the saem time, remember the past (lest we be doomed to repeat it) but with an eye to the future. [...]"-Joe McPhee, from the liner notes.
"[...] Nilssen-Love's precision and sense of dramatic contrast can be heard on the title track of the McPhee album - recorded at the 2008 Kongsberg Jazz Festival - Red Sky (inspired by the adage: "red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky in morning, sailor's warning"). He opens with brushes under McPhee's nervous smears on trumpet, and when McPhee switches to tenor Nilssen-Love drops down to hi-hat alone before gradually rolling out over the whole of his kit and forcing ever more energetic lines from the saxophone. On Peach Melba he provides restless bursts of energy, an unsettling backdrop to McPhee's chiaroscuro phrases.
In discussing Iron Man Returns in the liner notes, McPhee name checks the unusual triumvirate of Eric Dolphy, Marvel Comics and Black Sabbath. The first half is a barrage from Nilssen-Love, which gradually subsides as McPhee plays a riff which, to my ear at least, bears no resemblance to Sabbath's Iron Man (which had nothing to do with the superhero) but which does sound a bit like Dolphy. Confused, I decided to abandon the liner notes and just enjoy the music.
McPhee has produced a number of musical tributes and elegies - most notably on the album with drummer Chris Corsano: Scraps and Shadows - and there are more here. Till (Remembering Emmett Till) is a plangent lament on trumpet and then tenor, with repeated funereal cymbal strokes from Nilssen-Love, who briefly accompanies himself and McPhee on drums. Again, an appreciation of the power of a simple gesture.
McPhee's version of Duke Ellington's Come Sunday commemorates the same tragic event as John Coltrane's Alabama, with more nuanced brushwork from Nilssen-Love. As the piece comes to a tender close, McPhee's tenor is reduced to a whisper and barely completed phrases, as if ultimately lost for words in the face of the terrible deaths of four children, incinerated in a church. [...]"-Colin Green, FreeJazzBlog
• Show Bio for Joe McPhee
"Joe McPhee, born November 3,1939 in Miami, Florida, USA, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist and theoretician. He began playing the trumpet at age eight, taught by his father, himself a trumpet player. He continued on that instrument through his formative school years and later in a U.S. Army band stationed in Germany, at which time he was introduced to performing traditional jazz. Clifford Thornton's Freedom and Unity, released in 1969 on the Third World label, is the first recording on which he appears as a side man. In 1968, inspired by the music of Albert Ayler, he took up the saxophone and began an active involvement in both acoustic and electronic music.
His first recordings as leader appeared on the CJ Records label, founded in 1969 by painter Craig Johnson. These include Underground Railroad by the Joe McPhee Quartet (1969), Nation Time (1970), Trinity (1971) and Pieces of Light (1974). In 1975, Swiss entrepreneur Werner X. Uehlinger release Black Magic Man by McPhee, on what was to become Hat Hut Records.
In 1981, he met composer, accordionist, performer, and educator Pauline Oliveros, whose theories of "deep listening" strengthened his interests in extended instrumental and electronic techniques. he also discovered Edward de Bono's book Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity, which presents concepts for solving problems by "disrupting an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle." de Bono's theories inspired McPhee to apply this "sideways thinking" to his own work in creative improvisation, resulting in the concept of "Po Music." McPhee describes "Po Music" as a "process of provocation" (Po is a language indicator to show that provocation is being used) to "move from one fixed set of ideas in an attempt to discover new ones." He concludes, "It is a Positive, Possible, Poetic Hypothesis." The results of this application of Po principles to creative improvisation can be heard on several Hat Art recordings, including Topology, Linear B, and Oleo & a Future Retrospective.
In 1997, McPhee discovered two like-minded improvisers in bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen. The trio premiered at the Vision Jazz Festival in 1998 but the concert went unnoticed by the press. McPhee, Duval, and Rosen therefore decided that an apt title for the group would be Trio X. In 2004 he created Survival Unit III with Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang to expand his musical horizons and with a career spanning nearly 50 years and over 100 recordings, he continues to tour internationally, forge new connections while reaching for music's outer limits."-Joe McPhee Website (http://joemcphee.com/bio.html)
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• Show Bio for Paal Nilssen-Love
"Paal Nilssen-Love was born in Molde, Norway, Dec 24. 1974, and raised at a jazz club in Stavanger, run by his parents. It was natural to choose his fathers drums as his instrument and jazz as his work. From 1990 on he took actively part in the jazz milieu in Stavanger and joined bands with established musicians such as trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. In many ways, these collaborations were essential as they pointed out the directions for Paal's later musical development and career. During his studies at the Jazz dept at the University in Trondheim, where the first self initiated bands were established, things developed really fast - and Paal was nationally acknowledged at the age of 20.
The forming of the quartet Element in 1993 in many ways represented the start of a new phase in Paal's musical life. Element musically became a platform for several other groups with bassist Flaten and pianist Wiik, and lead to collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Chris Potter, amongst others. Paal moved to Oslo in 1996, where he joined and/or took part in the forming of bands like Vindaloo, SAN, Håkon Kornstad Tio, The Quintet and Frode Gjerstad Trio. He later on got more into self initiated projects and collaborations with Swedish musicians, such as pianist Sten Sandell and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.
Paal played his first solo concert in 1999, and since then the solo concept has been an important part of his work: "Everyone should try doing some solo work, just to feel who you really are and what gets you going". His solo album "Sticks and stones" was put out in 2001 on SOFA Rec.
Being active in several bands at the same time has always been Paal's deliberate working method. He is constantly conscious about the projects he is in, as his participation in each and one of them is fully dedicated. Playing is not about getting from start to goal, but rather being in an everlasting process, a continuous movement where each new piece of music performed is a prolongation of the latest. Hence, keeping focused and concentrating all energy around what's happening there and then is of greatest importance - as is the freedom in the music, the ability of being free within the expression.
All bands, although various styles and musical versatility in general, represent important pieces that make up a total, and all bands are formed or joined with a clear vision. Today Paal's portfolio includes Atomic, School Days, The Thing, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Sten Sandell Trio, Scorch Trio, Territory Band, FME, and various duo projects such as with reedmen Ken Vandermark, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, organist Nils Henrik Asheim and noise wizard Lasse Marhaug. And not to forget the recently joined Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet."-Paal Nilssen-Love Website (http://www.paalnilssen-love.com/biography.php)
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At The Squid's Ear!
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Catalog ID: PNL016
Squidco Product Code: 18316
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold Foldover
Recorded live at Energimolla, Kongsberg Jazzfestival on July 3rd, 2008.
Joe McPhee-tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet
Paal Nilssen-Love-drums, percussion
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1. Red Sky (Red Sky At Night, Sailor's Delight, Red Sky In The Morning, Sailors Warning) 11:22
2. Till (Remembering Emmett Till) 5:45
3. Peach Melba 5:03
4. Iron Man Retturns 5:16
5. Come Sunday 5:46