"A document of Joe McPhee’s first solo concert devoted exclusively to the straight horn, Soprano is both a companion volume to his previous LP for Roaratorio (Everything Happens For A Reason) and a follow up to his classic album Tenor, which raised the bar for solo saxophone music over 30 years ago. Recorded live in St. George’s Church at the Guelph Jazz Festival in 1998, Soprano was inspired by Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening performance at the venue the previous year. The acoustics of the church provided a natural web of reverberation and delay, and compose as much a part of the sonic palette as Michael Overhage’s farmhouse did for Tenor. McPhee’s art is informed by the head and the heart in equal measures, and Soprano is thoughtful, passionate music from one of jazz’s most eloquent practitioners."
“The musicality encountered in each of the four pieces transcends any quotidian meaning of the word… The shape of [Mcphee's] ideation is direct; the underlying message is deep and the beauty of the music, awe-inspiring.” – Lyn Horton, All About Jazz
“…another fine notch in McPhee’s discography of unaccompanied music.” – Clifford Allen, Paris Transatlantic
“Hearing this lovely recital, it’s hard to believe this one sat for nearly a decade… fantastic stuff.” – Jason Bivins, Cadence
“…this album is a wonderful souvenir of Joe’s playing at his most mesmeric and spatial. The way he interacts with the natural acoustics of the chapel is spell-binding.” – Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur
1. Response Ability Part I - 8:59
2. Response Ability Part II - 4:06
3. A Night On Rose Mountain - 11:21
4. In Order To Hear - 8:08
Available as a 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC download.
Since his emergence on the creative jazz and new music scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Joe McPhee has been a deeply emotional composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a thoughtful conceptualist and theoretician.
McPhee’s first recordings as leader appeared on the CjR label, founded in 1969 by painter Craig Johnson . These include Underground Railroad by the Joe McPhee Quartet in 1969, Nation Time by Joe McPhee in 1970, and Trinity by Joe McPhee, Harold E. Smith and Mike Kull in 1971.
By 1974, Swiss entrepreneur Werner X. Uehlinger had become aware of McPhee’s recordings and unreleased tapes. Uehlinger was so impressed that he decided to form the Hat Hut label as a vehicle to release McPhee’s work. The label’s first LP was Black Magic Man, which had been recorded by McPhee in 1970. Black Magic Man was followed by The Willisau Concert and the landmark solo recording Tenor, released by Hat Hut in 1976. The earliest recordings by McPhee are often informed by the revolutionary movements of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s; for example, Nation Time is a tribute to poet Amiri Baraka and Joe McPhee & Survival Unit II at WBAI’s Free Music Store, 1971 (finally released as a Hat Art CD in 1996) is a sometimes anguished post-Coltrane cry for freedom.
During the 1990’s, McPhee finally began to attract wider attention from the North American creative jazz community. He has since been performing and recording prodigiously as both leader and collaborator, appearing on such labels as CIMP, Okkadisk, Music & Arts, and Victo. In 1996, 20 years after Tenor, Hatology released As Serious As Your Life, another solo recording (this time featuring McPhee performing on various instruments). McPhee also began a fruitful relationship with Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark , engaging in a set of improvisational dialogues with Vandermark and bassist Kent Kessler on the 1998 Okkadisk CD A Meeting in Chicago. The Vandermark connection also led to McPhee’s appearance on the Peter BrotzmanChicagoOctet/Tentet three-CD box set released by Okkadisk that same year. As the 1990s drew to a close, McPhee discovered two like-minded improvisers in bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen- TRIO X.
"He is a stellar improviser, relishing his sound materials so caringly and for so long, the kind of player that invites you to really step outside of whatever mix you're and think and feel for a while." Hank Shteamer, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches