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The trio of Joe McPhee, Lisle Ellis and Paul Plimley in this important '95 reissue, playing music from and for Max Roach in a drum-less trio, a remarkable album!

McPhee, Joe / Lisle, Ellis / Plimley, Paul
Sweet Freedom - Now What?

McPhee, Joe / Lisle, Ellis / Plimley, Paul: Sweet Freedom - Now What? (Hatology)
Label: Hatology    
Released in: Switzerland    

"In 1994, Joe McPhee entered a studio in Zurich, Switzerland and recorded this thoughtful yet chance-taking response to Max Roach's ambitious Freedom Now Suite of 1960. McPhee, who is joined by Lisle Ellis on double bass and Paul Plimley on acoustic piano, could have easily turned Sweet Freedom, Now What? into yet another predictable, cliché-ridden jazz tribute album, but that doesn't happen. McPhee (who is a talented trumpeter but sticks to the tenor sax, soprano sax, and alto clarinet this time) doesn't treat Roach's compositions like museum pieces; instead, he embraces them on his own terms and brings many of his own ideas to the table. In fact, only about half of the songs were actually written or co-written by Roach; original compositions by McPhee, Ellis, and Plimley play a major role in the CD's creative success. Some listeners might be surprised to hear "Garvey's Ghost," "Driva' Man," "Self Portrait," and other Roach pieces played without drums -- after all, Roach was among the most famous drummers to come out of the bebop revolution of the 1940s. But then, the element of surprise is exactly what McPhee is going for on this rewarding, AACM-influenced inside/outside date."-Alex Henderson, All Music

"A Timeless Protest, Updated" 14 years have passed since the recording of Sweet Freedom - Now What? Today the world is a very different and infinitely more dangerous place. The Berlin Wall has fallen only to have new ones rise up in Israel and along the US southern border with Mexico (to name a few). Physical walls separating people (for what ever reasons deemed legitimate) pale before psychological walls caused by economics, politics and wars spanning generations. Civil and human rights fall prey to expediency, caught up in a meat grinder of opinion, while the revolution is being televised in full, bloody and horrific color daily...hourly. Ends justify means with manifesto, bravado and claims of responsibility. The words from Janis Joplin's song: "Me and my Bobby McGee"... Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, give pause for reflection. Still, at the end of the day "TOMORROW IS THE QUESTION", and the question is...NOW WHAT? -Joe McPhee, August 2007

"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 (

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Price: $16.95
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 752156060222

Label: Hatology
Catalog ID: 602
Squidco Product Code: 10250

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2008
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardstock Gatefold Sleeve
Recorded by Peter Pfister at Radio Studio DRS Zurich on July 27 and 28, 1994.


Joe McPhee-tenor, soprano saxophones, alto clarinet

Lisle Ellis-double bass

Paul Plimley-piano

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Track Listing:

1. Mendacity (Slow) 4:35

2. Driva' Man 4:21

3. Roost 2 4:27

4. Self Portrait/Lift Every Voice And Sing 9:50

5. Singing With A Sword In My Hand 1:23

6. Roost 1 2:25

7. Garvey's Ghost 12:45

8. Approaching The Smoke That Thunders 4:53

9. Triptych: /Prolepsis 7:54

10. Mendacity (Fast) 6:02

11. A Head Of The Heartbeat 3:38

12. The Persistence Of Rosewood 9:39

13. Roost (Coda) 0:40