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Joe McPhee

Biography

Joe McPhee tends to inspire fanatical reactions in fans, even though he remains largely a cult figure. McPhee builds on influences from the '60s avant-garde -- John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman in particular -- to create music that is often both theoretically advanced and emotionally stirring. His vocalized, vibrato-heavy tenor playing conveys great passion even in the absence of discernible rhythms or melodic lines. Despite his outside tendencies, he doesn't shy away from tradition: the recently reissued Nation Time, for one, proves his ability to burn it up in swinging and even Funk-flavored jazz settings. McPhee's work has been influential; saxophonist and Chicago scene-maker Ken Vandermark has repeatedly cited McPhee's 1976 solo LP Tenor as a prime source of inspiration. The Swiss Hat Hut label -- home to recordings by the likes of Steve Lacy, John Cage, and Cecil Taylor -- was founded in the early 1970s to release his music.
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