The multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee's legendary early work was the stuff that got the Hat Hut label started on its current mission of documenting the work of the world's great avant garde and free jazz players, after, the great Okka Disk label made their mark in a similar vein with a set of recordings by McPhee playing in various solo, duo, and trio combinations with Chicago players Ken Vandermark and Kent Kessler. Vandermark is a longtime fan of McPhee, and the two of them play together wonderfully on the CD "Meeting in Chicago". McPhee's sensitivity brings out a whole new side of both players, and the set's a brilliant document of a highly productive studio date recorded during his first appearance in Chicago.
The DKV Trio is made up of Ken Vandermark on saxophones and clarinets, Kent Kessler on bass and Hamid Drake on drums. They have been playing together in this configuration since 1997, and over those many years have built up a nearly telepathic mode of cooperation with one another and their free improvisations bear this out.
What you get here are the incredible rhythms by the master Hamid Drake himself, funky and free and crisp and sparkling like only he can do it, including the drum solos, which are an absolute delight.
Kessler is best known as the regular bassist in The Vandermark 5 and Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet, and his interaction with Vandermark’s powerful rhythmic playing is brilliant, whether with thick boppish pizzicato or more avant-garde bowing, he always keeps the pulse going.
And Vandermark, he can bop, swing, shout, sing and weep, but most of all he is the champion of building structure and then have it implicitly move on through his soloing, always nicely returning to the base, while having explored the various possibilities inherent in it, and keeping this incredible pulse throughout.
Put all four together and you get the best fireworks to come from a quartet.