Born in Miami in 1939, Joe McPhee started playing trumpet at the age of eight, and continued on that instrument through school and Army bands until picking up the saxophone in 1968. Since then he has extended his armoury to a range of reed and brass instruments, with a still developing interest in electronics. The move to multi-instrumentalism was prompted by his growing involvement in free music, of which he became a major theoretician, developing his concept of 'Po Music', described as "a process of provocation". But his work went largely unappreciated in his own country: luckily the Swiss entrepreneur Werner X Uehlinger was so impressed that he set up the hatArt record label specifically to document Joe's work. It wasn't until the 1990s that a new generation of American musicians, notably Ken Vandermark, started to recognise Joe's huge contribution to the music and his continuing vitality as a player, and he is now in great demand on both sides of the Atlantic.
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