Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
McPhee, Joe (Joespeh J. McPhee, Jr.)
McPhee is a composer, poet and multi-instrumentalist (playing saxophones, alto clarinet, trumpet and valve trombone). He was born into a family rich in musical traditions ranging from the church to the "jump" band music of the famous Savoy Sultans. His great uncle, Alfonso Cooper, was himself a composer, reedman and leader of the Sultans. At age 8 years, his father (an accomplished trumpeter) started Joe on trumpet, which he continued through elementary and high school bands and into a stint in a U.S. Army band in Germany. During his army career he studied traditional harmony and theory, and was introduced as a practitioner, to the world of jazz. In 1968 he began his investigations of the saxophone. Since then, he has been on a musical search through improvisation, conceptual studies and composition, encompassing various aspects of acoustic and electronic music. This search has brought wide acclaim and recognition worldwide. In 1969 he and painter Craig Johnson founded CJR Records to present his music to a wider audience. This fortunate occurrence led to a position at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, lecturing in a Black Studies program series called Revolution In Sound. Recordings made during that time, came to the attention of a Swiss entrepreneur directly leading to the creation of Hat Hut Records, which is today one of the leading independent record producers on the cutting edge of jazz and new music. In 1981 he joined Hat Hut Records as Vice-President in charge of promotion and Marketing, a position he held for 4 years. Later that year he was invited to participate as a solo performer at the New Music America Festival, held in San Francisco. His work came to the attention of world acclaimed independent composer, accordionist, performer and teacher, Pauline Oliveros. This meeting strongly inspired him to expand his investigations in the are as of extended instrumental and electronic techniques in a collaboration which continues to this day.
Also in 1981, inspired by Dr. Edward de Bono's concept of Lateral Thinking, McPhee adapted the concept as a process to realize his own work. The result is what he calls PO Music. Derived from words like possible, positive, poetry and hypothesis, the word PO is used as a language indicator to show that the process of provocation is being used to move from one fixed set of ideas in an attempt to discover new ones. He did this in an effort to better control his innovative/creative environment in order to survive. He found terms like jazz and new music all too often determined the amount of column inches in the press and the space allotted on shelves in record shops. PO Music as a descriptive label may not alter reality but it is a label of his own choosing. It is a Positive, Possible, Poetic Hypothesis. Today, the word Music in association with the name Joe McPhee makes all other language indicators unnecessary. In 1971, he performed on WBAI Radio's Free Music Store broadcast in NYC. In 1972, he played at the Newport Jazz Festival - New York. He also played at the Willisau Jazz Festival - Switzerland (1976), Nancy Jazz Festival - France (1977), Moers New Music Festival - Germany (1979), Nimes Jazz Festival - France (1980), New Music America 81' - San Fransisco, CA (1981), Willisau Jazz Festival - Switzerland (1982), the Speaking of Music series (Exploratorium: San Fransisco, CA, 1983) and the New Music Distribution Service 12th Anniversary (Public Theater:New York City, 1984). In 1985, he went on a U.S./Canadian tour with guitarist Raymond Boni of France. In 1986, he played for L'Inhumaine (1923 French film) live, on stage performances Paris, France. He played the Cannes Film Festival in 1987. With the film L'Humaine, he played in Lisbon, Portugal in 1988 and toured Tokyo/Osaka, Japan in 1990. He played the Festival Musique Actualle - Canada (1989). Also, he has played New Music Across America, Toronto, Canada (1992), the Du Maurier Ltd. jazz Festival, Vancouver B.C., Canada (1993), the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa, Canada (1993), and the Lisbon Jazz Festival, Lisbon Portugal (1993). In 1994, he went on a U.S./Canadian tour with pianist Paul Plimley, and bassist Lisle Ellis. In 1995, he went on a European tour with the trio of Evan Parker/Daunik Lazro/Joe McPhee. That same year, the Joe McPhee Quintet won the Earshot Golden Ear Award for best concert of 1995 in the Pacific Northwest. In 1997, Joe McPhee and Michael Bisio won the Earshot Golden Ear Award for best concert of 1997 in the Pacific Northwest.
Underground Railroad; Nation; Trinity; Pieces of Light; Black Magic Man; The Willisau Concert; Tenor; Rotation; Graphics; Variations on a Blue Line; Glasses Old Eyes; Tales and Prophecies; Topology (1987/88); Oleo; A Future Retrospective; Old Eyes & Mysteries; Topology; Linear B; Sweet Freedom-Now what?; Survival Unit II; A serious A your Life; Elan/Impule (duets with Daunik Lazro); Common Threads; McPhee-Parker-Lazro; Legend Street Vol. 1 and Vol. 2; Inside Out (with David Prentice); Finger Wigglers (with Michael Bisio); Blue Regard;
Clifford Thornton: Freedom and Unity; Andre Jaume quintet: Something; Jimmy Giuffre/Andre Jaume: River Station; Raymond Boni/Andre Jaume: Songs and Dances, Impressions of Jimmy Giuffre; Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening Band: Sanctuary, Tosca Salad; Evan Parker: The Redwood Sessions; Bill Smith Ensemble: Visitations; MFG (with Milo Fine/Steve Gnitka); Lisle Ellis: Elevations, Children In Peril Daunik Lazro Qunitet: Dourou
35 Smith St.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601