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The long-running trio of Joe McPhee on sax and pocket trumpet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello & electronics and Michael Zerang on drums, performing live at Jazzhouse Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013 for a classic Survival Unit set of open-ended and cathartic creative jazz.

Survival Unit III
Straylight (Live at Jazzhouse Copenhagen) [CASSETTE with download code]

Survival Unit III: Straylight (Live at Jazzhouse Copenhagen) [CASSETTE with download code] (Astral Spirits)

Label: Astral Spirits    
Released in: USA    

"Joe McPhee, Fred Lonberg-Holm & Michael Zerang have been playing together as SUIII for well over 2 decades now and continue to refine and expand their horizons.

Straylight is light in an optical system, which was not intended in the design. The light may be from the intended source, but follow paths other than intended, or it may be from a source other than the intended source. This light will often set a working limit on the dynamic range of the system; it limits the signal-to-noise ratio or contrast ratio, by limiting how dark the system can be.

This definition of Straylight applies here due to a slight mixup during production. You may find similarities with another SUIII release called "Straylight" on Zerang's own Pink Palace Records, which was recorded 9 months after this tape. Turns out that with both releases in production at the same time there was an accidental mixup and the same titles were sent for both of these releases. However in the beautiful words of Joe McPhee himself:

"It looks like in the fog of war, signals got crossed. I think honesty is the best policy here. In our fly by the seat of your pants world, sometimes our balls hang out. As Cecil Taylor's solo Hat Hut recording proclaims, "IT IS IN THE BREWING LUMINOUS." The music will tell the story, making the whole project all the more a collector's item."

Indeed we certainly believe this to be true. And from the definition of Straylight itself although this may not have been the intended final design, don't be afraid to follow each Straylight to it's end...the reality of each release is in the ear of the beholder, unique to each person that hears it."-Astral Spirits

"[...] For the Copenhagen gig the band used percussion, cello, electronics and tenor, which were their usual instruments for European tours (McPhee sometimes also played the pocket trumpet). "Blood of a Poet (for Steve Dalachinsky)", the A-side of the tape, is an almost classic Survival Unit III piece, on which the band uses all the typical elements that make them such an outstanding formation: McPhee's Ayleresque style, Lonberg-Holm's extensive cello arcos, his brutal electronic attacks, Zerang's elegant drive, the great timing of all the musicians (everybody exactly knows when to contribute), the marvelous solo parts etc. "If Not Now ..." starts almost tenderly with a very long and intimate duo of tenor (McPhee includes some voicing as well) and cello before there's a break at the five minute mark. It sounds as if the band was starting a new piece (maybe there were actually four pieces). It's almost a classic trio performance, at the beginning you can hardly tell Lonberg-Holm's cello from a bass. It takes about five minutes before the band gains momentum again when McPhee throws in a blues melody heading towards New Orleans jazz, but Lonberg-Holm and Zerang resist the temptation to follow. You can recognize cross-album similarities here and there however, especially in "When?", the last track, which also opens with a drum solo and in some respects its structure and atmosphere are similar to the Straylight version. McPhee plays tenor on both, which gives the music a feel of being gloomy yet beautiful. The focus is clearly on jazz, compared to new classical music on Starlight. Although the production of this album seems a bit confusing, the music is unquestionably top-notch. And it might become an object of desire for collectors as well. If you want a physical copy you better bequick."-Martin Schray,

See all items in the Cassette category

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Joe McPhee
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Trio Recordings
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Product Information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: MF109/AS024
Squidco Product Code: 21474

Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: USA
Packaging: Cassette
Recorded live at Jazzhouse Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 15th, 2013 by Gordan Comstick.


Joe McPhee-reeds, brass

Fred Lonberg-Holm-cello, electronics

Michael Zerang-drums

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Track Listing:


1. Blood Of A Poet


1. If Not Now?

2. When?