Two legendary saxophonists--New York's Joe McPhee on alto and UK's John Butcher on tenor--meet at "The Hill" in the Chihuahuan Desert in Texas, where artist James Magee is building a set of raised buildings arranged on the compass points to house his work, providing fascinating resonant properties for McPhee & Butcher's exceptional interaction.
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Label: Trost Records
Catalog ID: TROST 174CD
Squidco Product Code: 26878
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at "The Hill" in the Chihuahuan Desert , Texas.
Joe McPhee-alto saxophone
John Butcher-tenor saxophone
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• 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 John Butcher
"John Butcher's work ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.Originally a physicist, he left academia in '82, and has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians - Derek Bailey, John Tilbury, John Stevens, The EX, Akio Suzuki, Gerry Hemingway, Polwechsel, Gino Robair, Rhodri Davies, Okkyung Lee, John Edwards, Toshi Nakamura, Paul Lovens, Eddie Prevost, Mark Sanders, Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, Phil Minton, and Andy Moor - to name a few.
He is well known as a solo performer who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of place. Resonant Spaces is a collection of site-specific performances collected during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.His first solo album, Thirteen Friendly Numbers, includes compositions for multitracked saxophones, whilst later solo CDs focus on live performance, composition, amplification and saxophone-controlled feedback.
HCMF has twice commissioned him to compose for his own large ensembles. Other commissions include for Elision (Australia), the Rova (USA) & Quasar (Canada) Saxophone Quartets, reconstructed Futurist Intonarumori (USA), "Tarab Cuts" (based on pre-WWII Arabic recordings, and shortlisted for the 2014 British Composer's Award) and "Good Liquor .." for the London Sinfonietta. In 2011 he received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists.
Recent groupings include The Apophonics with Robair and Edwards, Anemone with Peter Evans, Plume with Tony Buck & Magda Mayas and a trio with Okkyung Lee & Mark Sanders.Butcher values playing in occasional encounters - ranging from large groups such as Butch Morris' London Skyscraper and the EX Orkestra, to duo concerts with David Toop, Kevin Drumm, Claudia Binder, Paal Nilssen-Love, Thomas Lehn, Fred Frith, Keiji Haino, Ute Kangeisser, Matthew Shipp and Yuji Takahashi."-John Butcher Website (http://www.johnbutcher.org.uk/Biog.html)
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1. Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No (20:51)
2. Mine Shaft (7:24)
3. Paradise Overcast (5:45)
4. A Forty Foot Square Room (3:57)
5. Torcello (5:44)
6. St. Ida's Breath (Less Her Neck And Teeth) (6:10)
sample the album:
"The roots of this album lie in two previous John Butcher recordings, his four solo pieces recorded in the resonant Oya Stone Museum, Utsunomiya City, Japan, in November 2002, which featured on Cavern With Nightlife (Weight of Wax, 2004), and Resonant Spaces (Confront, 2008) which documented a 2006 tour he made of various resonant sites-including a reservoir, a mausoleum, an ice house and an oil tank-in Scotland. In the wake of those albums, Butcher attracted plenty of invitations to play in spaces just as distinctive. One such came in 2010, inviting him to play at a remote site in the desert in West Texas; a work-in-progress, 'The Hill of James Magee'-still being built by the artist of the title, to house his work-consists of four single-storey, flat-roofed, stone buildings, built on raised plinths, at the cardinal points of the compass, around a central cruciform walkway, as shown on the album cover.
As well as Butcher, Joe McPhee was also invited to participate, appropriately as he was no stranger to playing in interesting environments: he studied Pauline Oliveros' musical theories and he worked with the Deep Listening Band, as heard on their album Sanctuary (Mode, 1995). From the concert promoters' point of view, having two saxophonists from opposite sides of the Atlantic must have made sense. Despite each of them being prolific and busy, another attraction must surely have been that Butcher and McPhee had never played together before. All of these ingredients combined to make this April 2010 performance quite an event.
On the day, Butcher played tenor saxophone and McPhee alto, which, allied to their contrasting playing styles, makes it relatively easy to identify their individual contributions. That is fortunate as the format of the concert could lead to confusion; the two saxophonists began in the North Building (McPhee) and the South Building (Butcher), separated by the sixty-yard walkway, with a microphone stationed in each building to capture their playing, the North one being heard on the left channel and the South on the right. After playing in their respective buildings for about ten minutes, the two then exited those buildings, promenaded along the walkway while still playing, passed each other at its centre and continued on so that they ended up in different buildings to those in which they had started, where they remained and played for a further nine minutes or so. As the microphones remained fixed, this meant that the saxophonists swapped channels, with both being heard on both channels for a while during the changeover. Given the distance between the two buildings, the question arises of whether the players could hear each other well enough to respond to each other's playing; was this a duet or two simultaneous solos? Significantly, the resulting track, which opens the album, is entitled "Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No." Nonetheless, when the two are near the centre of the walkway, clearly in earshot, their interactions are highly sympathetic to one another and to their surroundings, a joy to hear. The structure of the track gives the listener options-to balance left and right channels to hear both players or to favour left or right thus hearing one player then both together during the crossover then the other...
Fortunately, on the day, both microphones and the focus shifted to the central crossroads area for the album's remaining five tracks, two solo pieces from each player, culminating in a final duet in which the two could obviously hear one another. Excellent as the four solo tracks are, on the duo track it is intriguing first to have heard each player solo-the 'ingredients' of the duo-as this sheds light on the duo itself and the accommodations the players make in order to play together effectively. That is certainly the case here, with the final duo proving breathtaking as the two horn lines intertwine and coalesce, being applauded long and loud by the audience who were lucky enough to be at this event. One slight regret is that, at just over six minutes, the final duo feels on the short side. On that evidence, Butcher and McPhee should reconvene and record as a duo again as soon as possible. Meanwhile, this album will do very nicely; it is a credit to both saxophonists and also to James Magee and his hill."-John Eyles, All About Jazz
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