Joe McPhee & Raymond Boni | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Joe McPhee & Raymond Boni 

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Prior to his late-90s revivification here in the U.S., upstate New York multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee spent a lot of time in Europe, where he made some of his greatest recordings, like Old Eyes & Mysteries (Hat Art, 1979), Topology (Hat Art, 1981), and Oleo (Hat Art, 1982). Among his most frequent collaborators overseas is the inventive Marseilles-based electric guitarist Raymond Boni, who's worked with him since the mid-70s. The duo's new album Voices & Dreams (Emouvance), recorded last year in France, celebrates that long relationship with a beautiful series of dialogues, by turns delicate and fierce but always richly nuanced. The four variations of "Voices," where McPhee plays tenor saxophone, ripple with lyrical tenderness; the saxophonist introduces countless alterations of the tune's heartrending and eerily vocalic melody. On the three treatments of "Dream" McPhee plays pocket trumpet and alto saxophone with puckered aggression, often verging on abstraction, while Boni spits out splatters of loud color and traces chord progressions in electronically filtered whooshes and staccato barrages nicked from flamenco. He intuitively anticipates--and cushions--McPhee's every move. This is the first time the two have performed together in Chicago. Their performance also doubles as a record-release party for some reissues of McPhee's hard-to-find late-60s work by the local Unheard Music Series: his first recorded work, as a sideman with valve trombonist Clifford Thornton on 1967's Freedom & Unity, and his first album as a leader, 1969's Underground Railroad, which is generously appended by more than a full disc's worth of previously unissued live music recorded at Holy Cross Monastery in 1968. Wednesday, October 24, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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