Sonic Elements (for pocket trumpet and alto saxophone)
Joe McPhee is a musician of many solo albums (this is the number eight), but each one gives a different view of his art – either because of the instrumental choices, being the tenor saxophone the most frequent recording option, or because he has something new to add. In this case we can hear him playing the pocket trumpet, nowadays maybe his first tool to improvise, and a secondary reed among several, the alto sax. There’s a reason for this combination: “Sonic Elements” is a tribute to trumpeter extraordinaire Don Cherry, focusing on his period with the iconic alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman. The imitation stops there. A master in his own right, McPhee doesn’t want to copy them, but to celebrate their music keeping a distance. Even so, three factors of that magical collaboration are retained after 50 years: the song format, the use of the blowing instruments as extended voices, and the blues feeling. That’s right: you can listen to this CD as a homage to early free jazz, but this is really the document of a live performance (in Ljubljana, dating from 2012) committed to the mother-language of African-American music: the blues. And what a fabulous blues record this is!