Joe McPhee’s Vast and Brilliant Improvisational Discography

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Joe McPhee has been playing music for more than six decades, but he still has the enthusiasm of someone just getting started. “I like the concept of discovery,” he says over the phone from his home in Poughkeepsie, NY. “I’m a romantic. I love music and I love the stories it can tell that quite often don’t get heard.”

That love goes back to when McPhee was just eight years old, and his trumpet-playing dad taught him how to use the instrument. He stuck with it until his early 30’s, when he says he “fell in love with the music of Albert Ayler” and taught himself to play saxophone. Since then, he has carved out a huge, fascinating discography, much of it in collaboration with like-minded artists. “It’s always a conversation, it’s always a give and take,” he says of his musical partnerships. “It comes down to having a close-knit family of friends and knowing each other for a long time.”

That family is evident on the 85 releases on McPhee’s Bandcamp page, which spans 30 years and includes stalwarts like Evan Parker, Chris Corsano, Peter Brötzmann, and Matthew Shipp. “More often than not, my recordings come from live performances, and then I move on,” McPhee admits. “It’s difficult for me to listen to things that I do—it takes me a long time to go back to them, and then maybe I find something new I can use moving forward.” Still, McPhee was happy to tell us about some of the most interesting records in his Bandcamp catalog.