Skulldoggery (May 7th, 2018, Columbia, MO)p

Under the weather and confined somewhat to bed, I needed musical medicine. As happens more and more as I age, I turn to free music, and more and more as I turn to free music, I turn to the work of Joe McPhee. This time, it was his Skullduggery album, recorded with Amsterdam’s Universal Indians (named very appropriately after an Albert Ayler composition) and American saxophonist John Dikeman. I find that McPhee’s performances, where he employs multiple instruments in playing reactively to his fellows but also creates , sustains, and deconstructs themes, often mirror the hops, skips, jumps, and stretches of straight travel by which my mind works. Whether I am listening in dedicated fashion or reading, his work (quite frequently without regard to with whom he’s working–and he has many playmates) calms me. I’ve grown deeply familiar with and fond of his sound, whether he’s wielding sax, pocket trumpet, or something else; I feel confident I could pick him out of any free lineup in a blindfold test. Here–try the title track, and listen for what I mean when I say he doesn’t just react in a free context, but creates and sustains (bass player Jon Rune Strok is great here, too):

McPhee’s music may relax me, but my dog? He became disturbed, as this sequence demonstrates (you can see my little Bluetooth speaker on the window’s ledge):

Enjoy more of McPhee, Dikeman, and Universal Indians live, right here, from a year ago:

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