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Bebop Spoken There

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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Joe McPhee Trio @ Bridge Hotel, Newcastle - Feb. 2

Joe McPhee (tenor sax); John Pope (bass); Paul Hession (drums).

Some meaningful drum effects, bass joins in, McPhee looks contemplative. He's an imposing figure. The heat intensifies, Joe remains impassive then, as Pope and Hession fade, the man of the hour blows a long note. He blows another and another followed by a few more. We're on the edge of our seats awaiting the killer punch...

It comes! Wham! Bang! The squeaks and the squalls, the notes that Adolphe Sax never dreamt his invention was possible of, the phrases that maybe Trane would have gasped at.


Sanity returns for awhile as Pope takes us on a short melodic interlude (remember that word - melodic -  you won't hear it again,)

McPhee is quite an amazing player, at times he appeared to be singing and playing saxophone at the same time! Is that possible? With Joe it is!

Hession attempts to saw his ride cymbal in half with a violin bow. the cymbal remains intact and the overall sound is, amazingly, very effective. Pope does some bowing on bass. The mood is quite sublime ...
... but not for long!

This time Joe isn't reaching for the moon he's heading for some outer galaxy that even Sun Ra never knew about then, just like that, we're back down to Earth for a few bars of serenity. But not for long though, we're soon back at the races. This isn't the Derby or the National, not even the Indy 500 but a race without a finish line - phew!

And so, after half an hour, the opening improvisation ended.

More intriguing sounds  followed. Three virtuoso players reaching out to the parts your average jazzer never reaches. The trick is to imagine that you'd never ever heard jazz/music/whatever before and that this was your first experience of jazz or whatever name it goes under - you may be pleasantly surprised.

I opted out after the first set which was no reflection on the performers but rather my own inability to take in what I'd already heard - I needed to reflect...

The sold-out house showed their appreciation by applauding vociferously reminding me how, back in my RAF days I was the only one who marched in step.

I may not yet have quite reached Damascus but it's getting closer...

As a footnote, I must add that McPhee is a fantastic player in his chosen idiom and all the more impressive in that he's blowing that horn with new dentures although  this also decreed that trumpet playing was off the agenda.

And, in case you think I've got tunnel vision - Pope and Hession were equally important both guys were right on the money. Hession is more than a drummer or even that highfalutin title percussionist - he's a musician!
Lance

1 comment :

David Gosling said...

Couldn't agree more and and it's a pity I missed you.And that you missed a great second set too.

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