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Originally recorded to cassette tape (in Zurich, in 1979) this one-sided 180Gm LP restores and remasters this amazing 20 minute solo, a tour-de-force of tenor sax starting from the mouthpiece and bell and working into a fully formed and remarkable journey of method and music.

McPhee, Joe

McPhee, Joe : Zurich 1979 [1-SIDED VINYL + DOWNLOAD CODE] (Astral Spirits)

Label: Astral Spirits    
Released in: USA    

"We are incredibly honored to present Joe McPhee's "Zurich (1979)" LP...this LP features a previously unreleased 19 minute solo tenor sax recording from 1979. Astral Spirits Records was named after the song "Astral Spirits" on Joe McPhee's classic "Trinity" LP so this is a true honor for us. This recording also is quite fitting as it was made directly to cassette tape back in 1979 and now is pressed onto vinyl for the first time ever! The vinyl master/laquer was cut in Austin, TX by Adam Smith (Columbus Discount Records/Necropolis/Unholy Two) on an old 1940's lathe that was quite a beautiful thing to see and hear. The music speaks for itself in true McPhee fashion, from softly blown themes to roars of fortissimo and all places in between. A true joy to listen to McPhee from the late 70's again."-Astral Spirits

"AS labelhead Nate Cross said the following of this release:

"This one is unbelievably special for me. As you may have figured out already, Astral Spirits is named after the McPhee song [of the same name] from his Trinity LP. Since I know Ingebrigt [Haker-Flaten] (living in Austin for some time now) and others who know Joe, I emailed him about doing a release. What you hear on Zurich (1979) was originally recorded directly onto cassette tape (in 1979) so Joe thought it would be a fitting release for AS. After that, Joe kept mentioning how he discovered Albert Ayler's Bells just by the beauty and simplicity of the album design, so I decided I really wanted to make this unique and collectible release. We hand screen-printed covers (designed by Mason McFee, who has done all the designs for AS), got stamps made for the backs of the LPs with the info and thanks (so each LP is hand-stamped as well), and then reached out to another Austin legend, Tim Kerr, who painted a portrait of McPhee specifically for this release which will be included as a poster. (Also, there will be 10 copies of these 250 LPs that will feature unique Tim Kerr paintings on the actual LP jacket - anextra special edition.) It's only a one-sided LP BUT the music is exquisite and needs to be heard regardless of [how it's packaged]. The music was mastered and cut directly to vinyl by Adam Smith (who moved to Austin recently and owns an old 1940s lathe machine ...). The record has a unique sound quality to it ... a bit less polished and a bit more in your face, which I absolutely love. [The making of the record] was a beautiful process to see/hear."

As for the sound behind the story and the handsome packaging:

It was recorded March 12, 1979 in - you guessed it - Zurich. It's comprised of a single nearly-twenty-minute solo simply titled Tenor Solo. And its lament begins with successive "blown" notes - not "overblown", just air through the mouthpiece and reed amplified slightly by the horn's bell. A theme is stated, followed by several repetitions. The variations on the theme commence and McPhee begins to really toy with his dynamics. He drops to a pianissimo and roars to fortissimo without warning, often without even a hint of a bridge between. At just past five minutes, McPhee breaks from the theme to explore several short motifs, delivered staccato with note boundaries articulated extremely well. A minute later, his phrases become more lyrical before the theme is restated in a fiery altissimo. Vibratos follow and fade nicely to a revisited theme, with McPhee "speaking" softly.

An odd bit of serendipity: around the 12:20 mark, someone coughs. It proves to be a strange line of sonic demarcation, as, seconds later, McPhee introduces a concurrent theme in the form of what starts as some funky afrobeat before becoming a full-on "beat-box" of sorts, complete with McPhee climbing a string of notes with high groans on the forebeat. That, and the sound of his lips making physical contact with the reed, makes this movement of the piece seriously percussive.

McPhee climbs out of the movement with a sweet little riff repeated over and over again. Then, with just over two minutes left in the piece, it's like the love of his life walked through the door. Suddenly, he's playing just for "her". He projects and describes their entire life together. Their jobs, their children. Their interests, their fights. Their passions and-

Then, the tape cuts out."-Joel Barela, FreeJazz Blog

Includes MP3 download code, plus a Joe McPhee "The Key of Free" poster (12" x 15").

See all items in the Vinyl Recordings category

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Joe McPhee
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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Get additional information at Free Jazz Blog

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Price: $21.95
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 18.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

Includes MP3 download code, plus a Joe McPhee "The Key of Free" poster (12" x 15").

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: MF102/AS019
Squidco Product Code: 20899

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded live in Zurich, Switzerland on March 12th, 1979.


Joe McPhee-tenor saxophone

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1. Untitled