Musicians Joe McPhee — pocket trumpet, tenor saxaphone
Hamid Drake — drums, percussion
Cover and Artwork cover
graphic design: Louise Molnar
Photos: John Corbett

1. Cries and Whispers (18:37)
2. Mother Africa (For Miriam Makeba) (17:10)
3. God Bless the Child (4:18)
4. Emancipation Proclamation
5. Hate Crime Cries (3:14)

Recording Info

recorded at:
the Empty Bottle, Chicago
June, 25

recorded & mastered by: Malachi Ritscher/Savage Sound Syndicate
produced by: McPhee/Bruno/Johnson
executive producer: Bruno Johnson

Reviews Passion for Passion

This is one of the most challenging reviews I have ever written because it involves writing about music that cannot easily be separated from itself to order to be translated to another mode of communication. Hamid Drake on drum & percussion and Joe McPhee on tenor & pocket trumpet have created a CD which coincides with art, belief, cause, pain, longing and pursuit for resolution. It is called EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, A Real Statement of Freedom.

The conceptual essence of the CD symbolizes the African-American experience. This is a journey that is delicate, glorious yet also torrentially harsh. As does speak the music. The statement of freedom that exists here is one in which the artists have accepted and embodied the responsibility necessary to convey their message, no matter how difficult it is to do so and that is the reason it is REAL.

There are five works on this hour long 2000 OKKAdisk recording. Each piece is a blend of tribalism and expressive formalism. Drake extends the limits of his conventional drum set with rhythmic collectives that are breathtaking. His ability to balance stick manipulation that is so quick and precise on the cymbals, toms, snare and hi-hats with the bravura with which he rumbles and interjects the pounding of the bass drum cannot be duplicated. The maturity of the development of his style of playing all his percussion instruments and his sensitivity to other players, in this case, McPhee, are exceptional. Drake feels & responds in kind with the horn dropping back and whispering; Drake feels & responds in kind with the hornís intense screaming. Drake feels when it is time to be silent and when it is time to be the gentle inescapable backbeat or become the pulse that progressively escalates into a raging fire.

McPhee stretches the sonic breadth of his horns to spaces where rhythm is the ultimate content and whatever sound he produces has no alias. Ostinatos rise out beautiful melodic lines to penetrate & cut through space to shape another space that makes me shiver. His capacity to breathe allows him to blow and mold extended lines, having boundaries that reveal themselves only in the listening. His capacity to render his melodic lines sensuous with an occasionally interjected sour split tone is incomparable. His tenor sings from his heart no matter whether he is tearing out a succession of notes or stroking the air with a tenderness that does not go away from the listenerís mind.

The first cut, CRIES AND WHISPERS, speaks of the worthiness of the expression of black culture; the second, MOTHER AFRICA, is dedicated to Miriam Makeba, the pre-eminent African singer of the 20th century. Next, McPhee plays a recurring favorite tune, GOD BLESS THE CHILD, this time with Drake supporting the sweetness of the notes.

The title track, EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, bears an inherent structure which when realized is amazing. The improvisation is declarative, storming and talks the truth of fighting and struggling and being heard. At exactly the midpoint of the piece, Drake builds a bridge of percussive excellence which can ONLY introduce the tenorís bold operatic elongated pitches which transform into single notes, distancing themselves from the listener but implying a soundless continuation of the metaphor. This is perceptibly the crux of the last cut, HATE CRIME CRIES.

This recording deserves a billion stars. These two musicians are so incredibly married to their musical intentions that their music is overwhelming. Had I been at the live performance at the Empty Bottle in Chicago in 1999, I know that I would have not been able to leave in one body. In fact, having listened to the CD already a dozen times, I have to pinch myself to see if I am still able to function. — Lyn Horton (review copyright 2001 jazzreview.com)