Joe McPhee Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Joe McPhee Trio 

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Sixty-five-year-old Joe McPhee embodies what AACM cofounder Roscoe Mitchell calls the "super musician": a jazz player who "moves freely in music," negotiates past and present idioms, improvises, and composes, all with consummate skill. That's McPhee: He's used his tenor sax to explore the lyricism of Benny Golson's melancholy ballad "I Remember Clifford" (from 1982's Oleo, recently reissued on Hatology), led the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet on trumpet in a spirited charge through "All Things Being Equal" on the group's latest album, Images (Okka Disk), and wreathed Raphe Malik's trumpeting with ghostly, unpitched whispers (via pocket trumpet) on "Space March," from Sympathy (Boxholder), a trio session with drummer Donald Robinson. McPhee plays more than a dozen instruments--including reeds, brass, piano, and electronics--and he's established distinct voices with several, consistently making apt and deeply felt contributions to the music at hand. For this show, he'll perform with two locals, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and percussionist Michael Zerang. The three have played together for years in the Brotzmann tentet, but this is their first trio gig. McPhee told me he'll limit himself to alto sax and alto clarinet for the show. "I'm less familiar/comfortable with these instruments," he explained in an e-mail, "and therefore less likely to have to deal with my own cliches." Wednesday 11/10, 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages.

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