014 repress. First time vinyl reissue of Joe McPhee’s classic CJR LP from 1969. Exact repress of the original artwork. Trumpeter and saxophonist Joe McPhee’s first album, Underground Railroad, has been virtually impossible to find on vinyl, issued in an edition of 500 copies on Craig Johnson’s CJR label — it was recorded next to Johnson’s house at the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York. It sold out and was never reprinted on vinyl until now. Underground Railroad is comprised of three pieces, the title-track, “Harriett,” and “Message from Denmark.” The band features McPhee on cornet, pocket trumpet, and tenor, Reggie Marks on tenor, soprano, and flute, bassist Tyrone Crabb, and Ernest Bostic on drums, and is a scathing fire music release. There are wild, ecstatic interactions between McPhee and Marks, while the rhythm section harness the moaning, screaming, crying, and wailing done by the front men. On “Harriett” and “Message from Denmark,” the music takes on a decidedly more spatial feel. This is McPhee at the height of his powers of improvisation and composition. As far as vintage ecstatic free jazz goes, it doesn’t get much more nail-biting than this. Limited to 500 copies. Joe McPhee (trumpet, pocket cornet, tenor saxophone); Reggie Marks (tenor and soprano saxophone, flute); Tyrone Crabb (bass); Ernest Bostic (drums, percussion, vibes). Recorded on April 13, 1969, West Park, NY.
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Alto joins Tenor and Soprano to complete a discrete trilogy within Joe McPhee’s catalog of unaccompanied waxings. Recorded live at a Lower East Side bar in 2009, McPhee’s explorations on alto saxophone and alto clarinet are alternately fiery and contemplative, imbued with the masterful intelligence that’s marked his work for over forty years. A limited edition of 524 copies on 180 gram vinyl, with a Judith Lindbloom silkscreen print on rice paper and liner notes by Hank Shteamer. Digital download coupon included.
A special lettered edition of 26 copies, with hand-painted covers by Judith Lindbloom, signed by Joe McPhee, can be seen here (sold out).
“McPhee brings the same soulful yearning and exacting intelligence to the alto as to his other instruments… [his] inclusiveness and the discipline with which he exercises it, rather than the fact that he’s playing alto horns, is the real significance of this record.” – Bill Meyer, The Wire
“Alto realizes uncountable details of the lanugage he continues to uncover, whether or not those details plump up muscular abstractions or ornamentally twist the skeletons of old tunes.” – Lyn Horton, All About Jazz
“an amazing amazing document by master McPhee. all on alto (-sax and -clar )….he is a monster. this music is HEAVY… it doesnt get heavier… totally FANFUCKINTASTIC!”
– Mats Gustafsson