Joe McPhee / Jérôme Bourdellon - Octoblue

Joe McPhee / Jérôme Bourdellon - Octoblue

Verdict: 4/5

Label Usine




December 2016

Written By

Alexandru Mustață


August 27, 2017

If one would follow down the string of music played by many American improvisers, they would undoubtedly come down to the blues. The heritage of the blues has been preserved, deconstructed, left behind, returned to by most of the (not only) American improvisers that I've managed to listen to.

Joe Mcphee has worked with this tradition throughout his career, and, with "Octoblue" he revisits the blues, enriching his musical vocabulary from the root of the music.

Octoblue was recorded in 2012 at Culturel Center Pablo PIcasso in Blenod les Pont a Mousson, France, together with Jerome Burdellon, who does extend Mchpee's bursts into a more linear, palpable form. Not to say that Burdellon just completes the recording, as his interplays show throughout the album.

By the time the first track Deep See Dancers was finished, I had already come to figure how these to musicians will interact. At just over 13 minutes long, it captures many musical instances that at first listen seemed a bit overwhelming. But on Inner Blues, Mcphee and Burdellon enter the true narrative of their approach, with gospel humming and modal phrasings of the bass clarinet.

During On the Wat to History they play in and out of unisons, each taking turns in distorting their momentum. But nobody leads, it's a leadership-free environment throughout the whole recording.

Then there is Octoblue, the title track of the album, that puts the soul touch on the table. Bourdellon's playing here is at the heart of the blue note. He's blowing the octabass flute as if he were plucking one of those lap steel guitars from the 20s, and Mcphee roams through the ancient-like choruses of the cotton fields.

At its core, the album stands as a political poem filled with interpretations over the history of the African slaves and even the (de)arrangement of The Internationale in abstract form.


1. Deep Sea Dancers
2. Inner Blues
3. On The Way To History
4. Octoblue
5. International Spirit
6. Far From Africa
7. Tribute To Borah Bergmann
8. Across The Water
9. Last Tango In Blénod

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