Sunday 18 October 2015, 8pm
Always a pleasure to welcome back the vitalising fire, energy and essential craft of Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III, featuring drummer Michael Zerang and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm.
“Survival Unit III, formed in 2006 but their two sets were steeped in the fire, focus and collective energy of an earlier time. Improvisations arced from scattered abstractions to furious, dense textures, as McPhee’s brittle trumpet or abrasive, warm-centred sax spiralled to a climax. Underneath, Fred Lonberg-Holm attacked his cello like a demon and doctored its tone with abstract crackles and percussive pops, while percussionist Michael Zerang clattered and clanged with a tremendous sense of pulse.” – Mike Hobart, FT review of Survival Unit's residency at OTO in 2013.
“... [Joe Mcphee's] magical take on avant-garde sax remains one of the wonders of the scene. He still has one of the most beautiful tones on the planet, even when he’s reaching for jazz’s outer limits.” – Time Out New York
Preceeding this event; music critic, record producer, and curator, John Corbett presents a free early evening launch for his new book, ‘Microgroove: Forays Into Other Music’, with Joe McPhee (who features on the book's cover as well as inside) playing a special solo set.
Since his emergence on the creative jazz and new music scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Joe McPhee has been a deeply emotional composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a thoughtful conceptualist and theoretician.
McPhee’s first recordings as leader appeared on the CjR label, founded in 1969 by painter Craig Johnson . These include Underground Railroad by the Joe McPhee Quartet in 1969, Nation Time by Joe McPhee in 1970, and Trinity by Joe McPhee, Harold E. Smith and Mike Kull in 1971.
By 1974, Swiss entrepreneur Werner X. Uehlinger had become aware of McPhee’s recordings and unreleased tapes. Uehlinger was so impressed that he decided to form the Hat Hut label as a vehicle to release McPhee’s work. The label’s first LP was Black Magic Man, which had been recorded by McPhee in 1970. Black Magic Man was followed by The Willisau Concert and the landmark solo recording Tenor, released by Hat Hut in 1976. The earliest recordings by McPhee are often informed by the revolutionary movements of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s; for example, Nation Time is a tribute to poet Amiri Baraka and Joe McPhee & Survival Unit II at WBAI’s Free Music Store, 1971 (finally released as a Hat Art CD in 1996) is a sometimes anguished post-Coltrane cry for freedom.
During the 1990’s, McPhee finally began to attract wider attention from the North American creative jazz community. He has since been performing and recording prodigiously as both leader and collaborator, appearing on such labels as CIMP, Okkadisk, Music & Arts, and Victo. In 1996, 20 years after Tenor, Hatology released As Serious As Your Life, another solo recording (this time featuring McPhee performing on various instruments). McPhee also began a fruitful relationship with Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark , engaging in a set of improvisational dialogues with Vandermark and bassist Kent Kessler on the 1998 Okkadisk CD A Meeting in Chicago. The Vandermark connection also led to McPhee’s appearance on the Peter BrotzmanChicagoOctet/Tentet three-CD box set released by Okkadisk that same year. As the 1990s drew to a close, McPhee discovered two like-minded improvisers in bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen- TRIO X.
"He is a stellar improviser, relishing his sound materials so caringly and for so long, the kind of player that invites you to really step outside of whatever mix you're and think and feel for a while." Hank Shteamer, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
Percussionist, improvisor and composer Michael Zerang was born in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois. He has co-founded and performed with the musical groups Liof Munimula, The Neutrino Orchestra, Trio Troppo, The Wonderfuls, The Blue Angels, Sam Pappas' Tumbling Strains, Frozen Lucy, The Quirt Quintet, Musica Menta, The Vandermark Quartet, Dream Cheese, The Sputter Ensemble, In Zenith, and Broken Wire . In addition to these ensembles, Zerang currently performs with many innovative musicians including AACM co-founder Fred Anderson, Mats Gustafsson, Raymond Strid, Sten Sandell, Don Meckley, Jaap Blonk, Daniel Scanlan, Peter Brötzmann, Kent Kessler, Barre Phillips, Jim Baker, Hamid Drake, Ken Vandermark, Luc Hautkamp, and Fred Lonberg-Holm. He has recorded for Okka Disc, boxMEDIA, Kontrans, Southport, Quinnah, Eighth Day Music, Garlic, and Platypus, labels as well as many others.
Chicago based cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm has played and studied music in a variety of situations from the Juilliard School to the gutter. A former student of Anthony Braxton, Morton Feldman, Bunita Marcus and Pauline Oliveros, his primary projects are his Valentine Trio and The Lightbox Orchestra. He is also a member of a number of ongoing collective projects (The Boxhead Ensemble, The Friction Brothers with Michaels Zerang and Colligan, The Flatlands Collective, Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens) as well as participating in numerous one off "ad-hoc" or in frequently convening en-sembles.