Joe McPhee & Various CIMPhonia 1998 Part 1 & 2

While Joe McPhee is a presiding creative spirit behind this project, it's great to hear Toronto violin player David Prentice make music with such accomplished company. The septet only plays on three of 16 performances: "Estrus" (Part 1), "Fractals.5" and "Wow Wow II" (Part 2). Everything else is by splinter groups, notably the inspired bass duo of Dominic Duval and Peter Kowald whose supple interplay, intensity and invention in "Good Clean Fun," "Bo Peep" (Part 1) and "Endorpher" (Part 2) are hard to match. Although Part 1 boasts a fine quintet performance, "Making Space," there's no question that if you can only afford one part of CIMPHonia, go for Part 2. In addition to the septet's most compelling extended performance, "Fractals.5," there are three superb trios: Joe McPhee's intense fractal swing with Kowald and Jay Rosen, "Zee Zoning"; the lovely miniature ballad "Joe's Idea" (featuring Mark Whitecage on clarinet with both bass players); and the fluctuating dynamics of "Tex Ako" (featuring Whitecage's soprano with the inspiring rhythm team of Rosen and Duval). Part 2 offers a challenging feast of improvised music. (CIMP)