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Joe McPhee's landmark 1970 album in a beautiful 4-CD box set reissue, with 3 CDs presenting music leading up to the album's release, including tracks previously unreleased on CD (or in any format), and an extensive booklet with photos, interviews and liner notes.

McPhee, Joe
Nation Time: The Complete Recordings [4 CD BOX]

McPhee, Joe: Nation Time: The Complete Recordings [4 CD BOX] (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Label: Corbett vs. Dempsey    
Released in: USA    

In 1970, multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee waxed one of the landmark free-funk records: Nation Time. Recorded in concert at Vassar College and originally released on McPhee's own CjR label, Nation Time culled elements of post-Coltrane spiritual jazz, greasy organ funk, and expressive R&B into a previously unknown brand of Poughkeepsie stew. When the LP was finally reissued on CD a dozen years ago, it became an instant hit, drawing fans from the British soul scene and denizens of free jazz alike, introducing a new generation to Mr. McPhee's powerful statement, still brimming with sweat and humanity thirty years after its birth.

After working on it for five years, Corbett vs. Dempsey is proud to release "Nation Time: The Complete Recordings, a deluxe 4-disc box set featuring all the music leading up to and around the seminal LP. With 17 tracks previously unreleased on CD, most of which have never been issued at all, the set provides an expansive picture of the vibrant up-state NY free jazz/new thing scene, centered as it was on Joe McPhee. Lavishly packaged, with a booklet containing an extensive conversation between John Corbett and Joe McPhee and many previously unpublished photographs, Nation Time: The Complete Recordings also helps contextualize the original LP, exploring the special milieu in which tracks like "Shaky Jake" and "Scorpio's Dance" took shape.

Along with the LP, complete and re-mastered, Nation Time: The Complete Recordings presents additional tracks recorded during the original 2-day performances in December 1970, including a version of James Brown's "Cold Sweat," as well as the full LP Black Magic Man, which was released on vinyl as the very first issue of the fledgling Hat Hut record label in 1975, but has never been reissued on CD. Two fascinating concert recordings from 1969 are released here for the first time, one featuring McPhee on trumpet playing jazz standards including "My Funny Valentine," "Milestones," and "Bag's Groove," and the other, recorded at a local bar called the Paddock, including the first incarnation of what would become the track "Nation Time."

This box set cuts direct to the heart of 1970s jazz-funk expression, with all the passion, intrigue, and tenderness the world has come to expect from Joe McPhee. Here it is in all its germinal, previously unheard glory. What time is it? You know what time it is. Once again, it's Nation Time!"-Corbett vs. Dempsey

"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 (

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Joe McPhee
Box Sets
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Jazz Reissues

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Product Information:

Label: Corbett vs. Dempsey
Catalog ID: CvsD CD011
Squidco Product Code: 18241

Format: 4 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: USA
Packaging: 4 CDs and Booklet in a Box Set
CD 1, 2 and 4 recorded live at Chicago Hall, Vassar College Urban Center for Black Studies, December 12th and 13th, 1970. CD 3 recorded live at th Paddock, Poughkeepsie, NY in 1969 and at Vassar College on October 23rd, 1969.


Joe McPhee-trumpet, tenor saxophone

Otis Greene-alto saxophone

Tyrone Crabb-electric bass, bass, trumpet

Ernest Bostic-percussion

Bruce Thompson-percussion

Davey Jones-guitar

Herbie Leaman-Hammond B-3 organ

Mike Kull-piano, Rhodes electric guitar

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Track Listing:

CD 1: Nation Time

1. Nation Time 18:36

2. Shakey Jake 13:40

3. Scorpio`s Dance 8:45

CD 2: Black Magic Man

1. Black Magic Man 21:36

2. Song for Lauren 9:45

3. Hymn of the Dragon Kings 23:46

4. Song for Lauren, alternate 1 4:56

5. Song for Laruen, alternate 2 4:12

CD 3: Nation Time Preview, 1969

1. Nation Time 7:04

2. Untitled 9:22

3. Milestones 12:20

4. My Funny Valentine 10:12

5. Bag's Groove 15:41

6. Breakaway Theme 2:33

CD 4: The Vassar Sessions, 1970

1. Cold Sweat 11:21

2. Contemplation 11:11

3. Spring Street 8:29

4. Hymn Of The Dragon Kings 17:32

5. Sunshowers 22:53

6. Untitled 6:44