McPhee, Butcher – At The Hill of James Magee

At The Hill Of James Magee presents the duos complete performance at the extraordinary monument "The Hill" in the Chihuahuan Desert in the middle of nowhere in Texas. John Butcher and Joe McPhee had never shared a stage before which ended up being an attentive collaboration, starting with a long duo, alternating solo performances, and closing the atmospheric set with another duo.

"The four solo pieces are advanced clinics in saxophone technique, again supplemented by architecture and wind and weather. Each performer invited the desert into their sound, giving the listener the feel of sand between our toes and the visual of sage brush rolling by." - All About Jazz

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Joe McPhee / alto saxophone

John Butcher / tenor saxophone

Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC

Tracklisting:

1. Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No - 20:51 
2. Mine Shaft - 07:24 
3. Paradise Overcast - 05:45 
4. A Forty Foot Square Room - 03:57 
5. Torcello - 05:44 
6. St. Ida's Breath (Less Her Neck and Teeth) - 06:10

John Butcher

Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.

Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.

Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.

“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.

Joe McPhee

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