Jim Staley & Joe McPhee

Wednesday, March 11, 2009. 8:30 pm

Jim Staley, trombonist/composer moved to New York and has resided in a lower Manhattan since 1978. His work has been primarily working with improvisation, crossing genres freely between post-modern classical music and avant-garde jazz. He has worked for many years with other highly experienced improvisers, both dancers and musicians, including Sally Silvers, Pooh Kaye, Simone Forti, Ikue Mori, Davey Williams, Shelley Hirsch, Phoebe Legere, John Zorn and many others. Staley’s recording projects include Blind Pursuits with Phoebe Legere and Borah Bergman; Mumbo Jumbo-different trio combinations with Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp, Shelley Hirsch, Samm Bennett, Ikue Mori, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith and John Zorn; Jim Staley’s Don Giovanni, with Mori, Davey Williams, Zeena Parkins and Tenko, plus several more.

Staley has recorded with Fred Frith, Elliott Sharp’s ensemble Carbon, and for John Zorn on several records including, Spillane, The Big Gundown, Cobra, The Little Lieutenant of the Living God (Weill/Zorn) and several others. Staley also performs and records with the Tone Road Ramblers, a collaborative chamber-improv ensemble, together since 1981. He is the 2005 recipient of the Susan E Kennedy Memorial Award, given for his years in support of artists.

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. By 1974, Swiss entrepreneur Werner X. Uehlinger had become aware of McPhee’s recordings and unreleased tapes and 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. 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 and liberation.

In the early 1980s McPhee met composer, accordionist, performer, and educator Pauline Oliveros, whose theories of “deep listening” strengthened his interests in extended instrumental and electronic techniques. McPhee also read Edward de Bono ‘s book Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity, which presents concepts for solving problems by “disrupting an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.” Since then McPhee has appeared on such labels as CIMP, Okkadisk, Music & Arts, Cadence Jazz Records, and Victo, and collaborated with such artists as Ken Vandermark, Kent Kessler, Peter Brötzmann, Dominic Duval, and Jay Rosen (Trio X).

With a career now spanning over 37 years and more than 60 recordings, Joe McPhee has shown that emotional content and theoretical underpinnings are thoroughly compatible – and in fact, a critically important pairing – in the world of creative improvised music.


Joe McPhee & Jim Staley at Roulette 2009