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Joe McPhee

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Joe McPhee
At the Empty Bottle, Chicago, November 4, 2004
Background information
Born (1939-11-03) November 3, 1939 (age 84)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, critic, educator
Instrument(s)Saxophone, trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone
Labelshat Hut, CIMP
Joe McPhee, mœrs festival 2010
Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann and Kent Kessler performing in Aarhus, Denmark 2009

Joe McPhee (born November 3, 1939) is an American jazz multi-instrumentalist born in Miami, Florida, a player of tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone, the trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone. McPhee grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and is most notable for his free jazz work done from the late 1960s to the present day.

Life and career[edit]

McPhee was born in Miami, Florida, on November 3, 1939.[1] He began playing trumpet when he was eight, before learning other instruments. He played in various high school and then military bands before starting his recording career. His first recording came in 1967, when he appeared on the Clifford Thornton album entitled Freedom and Unity. McPhee taught himself saxophone at the age of 32 after experiencing the music of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, McPhee lectured on jazz music at Vassar College.[1]

In 1975, Werner Uehlinger started the Swiss label Hathut Records with the specific intent of showcasing McPhee's music.[2] In the 1980s, McPhee met Pauline Oliveros, began studying her musical theories, and worked with her Deep Listening Band. He has not yet signed with any major label in his native United States, and was possibly better known throughout Europe than his native country until the 1990s. His 1996 album As Serious As Your Life, which takes its title from the jazz book by Val Wilmer, is "arguably the finest of his solo recordings", according to the AllMusic review.[3]

Jazz musicians with whom McPhee has recorded or performed include Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, Jeb Bishop, The Thing, Clifton Hyde, Jérôme Bourdellon, Raymond Boni, and Joe Giardullo. Since 1998, McPhee, Dominic Duval, and Jay Rosen have performed and recorded as Trio X.[4][5] In the 1990s Dominique Eade and McPhee had a jazz ensemble called Naima.[6]

McPhee has written reviews and commentary for Cadence.[1]

In 2005, McPhee was awarded the Resounding Vision Award by Nameless Sound.


Joe McPhee in music is (Speaking Portraits) (Vol. I)

With Trio X[edit]

With Survival Unit III[edit]

  • Don’t Postpone Joy! (Rai Trade, 2006)
  • Syncronicity]' (Harmonic Convergence, 2011)
  • Game Theory (Not Two Records, 2013)
  • Barrow Street Blues (Holidays Records, 2015)
  • Straylight (Pink Palace, 2015)
  • Straylight (Live at Jazzhouse Copenhagen) (Astral Spirits, Monofonus Records, 2015)


  • A Future Retospective (Hat Hut, 1983) – compiles Old Eyes and Oleo
  • Nation Time: The Complete Recordings (1969-70) (Corbett vs Dempsy, 2013) – Compiles Nation Times and Black Magic Man with 2 CDs of unreleased live recordings
  • The CjR Years (Bo'Weevil, 2014) – 4LP Box Set compiles Underground Railroad, Nation Time, Trinity and Pieces of Light

As sideman[edit]

With Peter Brötzmann

With Roy Campbell, William Parker & Warren Smith

With the C. T. String Quartet

  • Reqiphoenix Nexus (Cadence Jazz, 1999 [2006])

With Dominic Duval

  • Live in Concert (Cadence Jazz, 1999)
  • Cries and Whispers (Cadence Jazz, 1999 [2001])
  • Undersound (Leo, 2000)
  • Undersound II (Leo, 2003)
  • Rules Of Engagement, Vol. 2 (Drimala, 2004)

With Joe Fonda

  • Heat Suite (Konnex, 2003)

With Joe Giardullo

  • Shadow & Light (Drimala, 2002)

With Jimmy Giuffre and André Jaume

  • River Station (CELP, 1993)

With Raphe Malik

  • Sympathy (Boxholder, 2002) with Donald Robinson

With Mat Maneri

  • Sustain (Thirsty Ear, 2002)

With the Nihilist Spasm Band

  • No Borders (Non Musica Rex, 2001)

With Evan Parker

With Jamie Saft

  • Ticonderoga (Clean Feed, 2015)

With Clifford Thornton

With The Thing

  • She Knows... (Crazy Wisdom, 2001)


  1. ^ a b c Wynn, Ron (1994), Ron Wynn (ed.), All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p. 454, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
  2. ^ "Established 1975". HatHutRecords. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-02-24.
  3. ^ Brian Olewnick, review of Joe McPhee, As Serious as Your Life, AllMusic.
  4. ^ Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2008) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (9th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 984. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0.
  5. ^ Rusch, Robert D. (1998). The Watermelon Suite (CD insert). Trio X. Redwood, NY: CIMP. CIMP 183. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
  6. ^ "Dominique Eade Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-02-06.

External links[edit]