Monday, May 04, 2020

Decoy with Joe McPhee - AC/DC (Otoroku, 2020)

After a eight year wait, it is great to year from Decoy: the trio of John Edwards on bass, Steve Noble on drums, and Alexander Hawkins on organ, reunited with the legendary pocket trumpet and alto saxophone player Joe McPhee. This album was recorded on the closing night of his four day residency at Cafe OTO in May of 2019 and really catches fire in a bottle, as the four musicians come together to explore the entire history of post bop jazz over the course of eighty minutes. On the opening track "AC" you really get a sense of what the group is capable of, when they are branching out with McPhee playing punchy trumpet or strong postbop and free tinged saxophone. There are ballad and open ended improvised sections that wouldn't sound out of place on a 1950's Prestige blowing session or Blue Note modal jam, but the band only nods briefly in those directions, passing them on the highway to their true destination which is creating unique original improvised music. In that fashion, "DC" opens in a much more abstract manner, with bowed bass, skittish drums and droplets of molten lava lamp keyboards, setting an out of this world vibe that gradually builds to some enthralling free improvisation. Tightly wound tension and intense release involves exciting percussion and saxophone with vocal encouragement from McPhee driving the music ever deeper, moving to a wicked bass and drums duet improvisation at one point. Hawkins fits right in with these free jazz masters, adding hints of Love Cry Want and Lifetime, manufacturing bold waves of sound from the instrument that fit in well and encourage the bass and drums to evolve and adapt. McPhee sounds great on both of his instruments, attacking every opportunity for improvisation and using gradations of texture to develop the music and make for exciting listening. AC / DC -

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