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Joe McPhee (born November 3, 1939) is an American jazz multi-instrumentalist born in Miami, Florida, a player of tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone, the trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone. McPhee grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and is most notable for his free jazz work done from the late 1960s to the present day.

McPhee began on trumpet at age eight before learning other instruments. He played in various high school and then military bands before starting his recording career. His first recording came in 1967, when he appeared on the Clifford Thornton album titled Freedom and Unity. He taught himself saxophone at age 32 after experiencing the music of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman.

In 1975, Werner Uehlinger started the Swiss label hat Hut Records, a label specifically designed to showcase the music of McPhee. In the 1980s, McPhee met Pauline Oliveros, began studying her musical theories, and worked with her Deep Listening Band. He has not yet signed with any major label in his native United States, and was possibly better known throughout Europe than his native country until the 1990s. McPhee has recorded or performed with various renowned jazz musicians, including Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, Dominic Duval, Jay Rosen, Jeb Bishop, The Thing, Clifton Hyde, Jérôme Bourdellon, Raymond Boni, Joe Giardullo and many others.

In 2005, McPhee was awarded the Resounding Vision Award by Nameless Sound.

Select discography

Nation Time (1971),

Oleo & A Future Retrospective (1982),

Impressions of Jimmy Giuffre (1991),

Specific Gravity (1998),

Shadow & Light (2002),

Red Morocco (2006)


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