music clip of the day


Tag: Joe McPhee

Tuesday, April 25th

Is any alto player more eloquent?

Joe McPhee (alto saxophone), William Parker (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums), live, New York, 2014



art beat

Paul Strand (1890-1976), Abandoned Window, 1944


Monday, September 12th


Joe McPhee (alto saxophone) & Ingebrigt Haken Flaten (bass)
Live, Milwaukee, 2015



art beat: other day, Art Institute of Chicago

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Gas, 1940 (America after the Fall, Painting in the 1930s, through 9/18/16)



Thursday, February 26th

Soundtrack for your day?

Peter Brotzmann Tentet,* live, Atlanta, 2002

*PB, reeds; Ken Vandermark, reeds; Mats Gustafsson, reeds; Mars Williams, reeds; Joe McPhee, trumpet; Jeb Bishop, trombone; Fred Longberg-Holm, cello; Kent Kessler, bass; Hamid Drake, drums; Michael Zerang, drums.

Wednesday, September 17th

tonight in Chicago

These guys will be at the Hideout, as will I.

Survival Unit III (Joe McPhee, tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Michael Zerang, drums), live, Denmark (Copenhagen), 2013

I could live a thousand years and never tire of going out in the dark to hear music.



art beat: Monday at the Art Institute of Chicago (brief stop after lunch)

Josef Koudelka (1938-), Slovakia, 1963 (from Gypsies)
Nationality Doubtful, through September 21st


Wednesday, March 12th

not for the faint of heart

Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet,* live, France (Le Mans), 2004



musical thoughts

Q: What would people be surprised to know that you listen to?

Bill Clinton: Brötzmann, the tenor sax player, one of the greatest alive.

Oxford American, 2001 (annual music issue)


*PB, reeds; Ken Vandermark, reeds; Joe McPhee, pocket trumpet, tenor saxophone; Roland Ramanan, trumpet, wooden flute; Toshinori Kondo, trumpet; Jeb Bishop, trombone; Fred Longberg-Holm, cello; Kent Kessler, bass; Michael Zerang, drums; Paal Nilssen-Love, drums.

Thursday, August 8th

There are all kinds of blues, too.

Joe McPhee Survival Unit 3 (JM, alto saxophone; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Michael Zerang, drums), live, London, 2010



reading table

Dream Song 40
By John Berryman (1914-1972)

I’m scared a lonely. Never see my son,
easy be not to see anyone,
combers out to sea
know they’re goin somewhere but not me.
Got a little poison, got a little gun,
I’m scared a lonely.

I’m scared a only one thing, which is me,
from othering I don’t take nothin, see,
for any hound dog’s sake.
But this is where I livin, where I rake
my leaves and cop my promise, this’ where we
cry oursel’s awake.

Wishin was dyin but I gotta make
it all this way to that bed on these feet
where peoples said to meet.
Maybe but even if I see my son
forever never, get back on the take,
free, black & forty-one.

Back in the ’70s, when I was in college, I heard John Berryman read his poetry, an experience that opened my ears and mind in all kinds of ways. He moved so swiftly, and gracefully, from one register to another, leaping back and forth between high and low as if nothing could be more natural. Today he joins a select group—tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, trumpeter Lester Bowie, singer Dorothy Love Coates, poets Wislawa Szymborska and William Bronk—in the MCOTD Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 26th


I’ll be at the Hideout, a small club on Chicago’s northwest side, seeing this Ethiopian dancer, this baritone saxophonist, and an array of other dancers and musicians.

Melaku Belay (dance), Ken Vandermark (baritone saxophone), Joe McPhee (alto saxophone), Milwaukee, 6/22/13



reading table

wind blowing
paper fans rustling

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), 1823 (translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)

Thursday, 9/20/12

shhhh . . .

Joe McPhee, “Old Eyes” (for Ornette Coleman), live, New York, 2009

Tuesday, 5/1/12

ready to levitate?

Peter Brötzmann  Chicago Tentet,* “Aziz” (M. Zerang), recorded live in Chicago (Empty Bottle), 9/17/97 (Okka Disk OD-12022)



art beat: yesterday at the Art Institute of Chicago (after meeting with a client at the nearby federal jail)

Utagawe Hiroshige, Suijin Shrine and Massaki on the Sumida River (from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo), c. 1856


reading table

Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose . . . the sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times—noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring—belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetery for rusty old cars.

—Italo Calvino, “Lightness,” in Six Memos for the New Millenium (1988, translated from Italian by Patrick Creagh)


*PB, tenor sax/clarinet/tarogato; Mars Williams, tenor/alto/soprano sax/clarinet; Ken Vandermark, tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet; Mats Gustafsson, baritone sax/fluteophone; Joe McPhee, pocket cornet/valve trombone/soprano sax; Jeb Bishop, trombone; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Kent Kessler, bass; Michael Zerang, drums/percussion; Hamid Drake, drums/percussion.

Sunday, 4/29/12

Let’s go to church.

“Until I Die,” Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., 2001



reading table

On the Death of Friends in Childhood

We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven,
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
Forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come, memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.

—Donald Justice (Collected Poems, 2004)


“[We find] it impossible, when we have to analyze death, to imagine it in terms other than those of life.”

—Marcel Proust, The Fugitive (translated from French by Peter Collier)


listening room: (some of) what’s playing

• The Dirtbombs, Ultraglide In Black (In the Red Records)

Wild Flag (Merge Records)

• That’s What They Want: The Best of Jerry McCain (Excello)

The Best of Slim Harpo (Hip-O)

• Ambrose Akinmusire, When the Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)

• Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, I Only Have Eyes For You (ECM)

• Anthony Braxton, 9 Compositions (Iridium)

• Chicago Tentet, American Landscapes 1 & 2 (Okka)

• Steve Lehman Octet, Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi Recordings)

• Joe McPhee, Nation Time (Unheard Music Series)

• Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Electric Fruit (Thirsty Ear)

• J. Berg’s Royal Rarities Vols. 2-3; A Cappella Archives, Vol. 3; Gospel Goldies, Vol. 2 (Rare Gospel)

• The Fisk Jubilee Quartet, There Breathes A Hope (Archeophone)

This May Be My Last Time Singing: Raw African-American Gospel On 45 RPM 1957-1982 (Tompkins Square)

• Bach, Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Pierre Fournier, (Archiv Production/DG)

• Mozart, Piano Sonatas Nos. 16 and 17, Peter Serkin, piano (Pro Arte)

• Arnold Schoenberg, Das Klavierwerk, Peter Serkin, piano (Arcana)

The Art of Joseph Szigeti (Biddulph Recordings)

• Anton Webern, Five Movements For String Quartet, Op. 5; Six Bagatelles For String Quartet, Op. 9; String Quartet, Op. 28; Quartetto Italiano (Philips)

• Anton Webern, Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio, Artis Quartet Wien (Nimbus)

Music of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 6, David Holzman, piano (Bridge)

• WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University)

Bird Flight (Phil Schaap, jazz [Charlie Parker])
Traditions in Swing (Phil Schaap, jazz)
Eastern Standard Time (Carter Van Pelt, Jamaican music)
Rag Aur Taal (various, Indian)


Mudd Up! (DJ/Rupture“new bass and beats”)
Sinner’s Crossroads 
(Kevin Nutt, gospel)
Cherry Blossom Clinic (Terre T, rock, etc.)
Fool’s Paradise (Rex; “Vintage rockabilly, R & B, blues, vocal groups, garage, instrumentals, hillbilly, soul and surf”)

• WHPK-FM (broadcasting from University of Chicago)

The Blues Excursion (Arkansas Red)



Happy Birthday, Duke!

All Ellington, all day: WKCR-FM.

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