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 Title:             A Night In Alchemia

 By:                Joe McPhee / John Edwards / Klaus Kugel

​ Released:      2019

 Format:         CD

 Catalog No:   MW 992-2

 EAN:              5906395187515

 Price:            12 EUR

A Night In Alchemia by Joe McPhee, John Edwards & Klaus Kugel album cover


1. Burden Of Proof

2. Just To Wait

3. At The Waters Edge

4. To Watch A Mist Rise


Joe McPhee - trumpet, saxophones

John Edwards - double bass

Klaus Kugel - drums



at Alchemia, in Krakow, Poland, on October 20th, 2018, by Ralf Drewiany. 



The working trio of New York trumpeter & saxophonist Joe McPhee, London double bassist John Edwards, and German drummer Klaus Kugel, actively touring through Europe since 2017, are heard live at Alchemia in Krakow, Poland in 2018, for four monumental examples of free improvisation in superlative playing with intense rhythmic interaction and deeply expressive soloing.

What the critics say:

“A Night In Alchemia” is out now on “Not Two Records”. Album was recorded by three featured jazz masters – Joe McPhee (trumpet, saxophones), John Edwards (double bass) and Klaus Kugel (drums). The improvisations of this trio always have exceptional sound and are filled with inventive, interesting, innovative and bright decisions. Eclectic ideas, organic stylistic allusions, sound experiments, moody and sudden changes, contrasting pieces, an influenze of various jazz styles and musicians unique sound – all these elements are gently combined together. The music is bright, luminous, sparkling and moving. It’s a nice and eclectic fusion of various jazz styles – avant-garde jazz, experimental jazz, free improvisation and sonoristic experiments contain the basic of it. The tunes related to bebop, post bop, hard bop, cool, fusion, mainstream, contemporary and modern jazz are used here and integrated to musical pattern. Musicians are fusing together different streams of avant-garde jazz – European, Scandinavian and American avant-garde jazz are gently brought together. That makes an effort to evocative, bright and luminous sound.

“A Night In Alchemia” is filled with interesting and organic sound. The improvisers are demonstrating their own playing techniques, whom are already developped through the years of creative activity. The compositions have dynamic mood – it’s balancing between sad, lyrical, relaxing and calm to virageous, furious, powerful, frantic, vibrant and passionate. Musicians are taking the basics of avant-garde jazz to form the base of the compositions. The roots of 1960’s and 1970’s American avant-garde jazz, classical and effective ways of improvising are connected to the newest innovations of experimental jazz, sound experiments, free improvisations and modern tendencies of Scandinavian avant-garde jazz. The synthesis of all these styles is organically made. The musicians don’t forget and the other jazz styles – their music is frequently related to bebop, post, bop, hard bop, neo bop, fusion, cool and various mainstream and contemporary jazz styles. Typical rhythmic figures of these styles are integrated to basic musical pattern whom is based on free, organic and impressive improvisation, breaking sessions, frantic drum rolls and other similar elements. Wide range of rhythms, special effects, strange timbres and inventive decisions make a individual, contrasting and bright rhythmic section. The melody line is remarkable and expressive – it’s basically kept by saxophone and trumpet, as well as double bass. The harmony line is stable and modern. It’s based on sharpp, frantic and aggressive disonances, who are constructed to perturbating, vibrant and frantic beaking sessions, and are contrasting to soft and calm consonances. Saxophones and trumpet by Joe McPhee are luminous, bright and expressive. Featured improviser is demonstrating wide musical knownledge, fantastic playing technique and his own sound. His music is based on expressive, bursting and frantic playing manner – it’s filled with vigilant turbulance, terrific riffs, blowing, growling and roaring blow outs, wah-wah, special effects, strange tunes, expressive and remarkable melodies, driving sessions, perturbating and frantic culminations and dizzy glamorous passages. Joe McPhee is trying to expand the main technical abilities of his instruments – he gets on original sound experiments. Trumpet and saxophones bring the energy, vivdness and drive to the compositions. Double bass by John Edwards is heavy, dark and subtle. Effective and stable bass line is created by using repetitive series and monotonic tunes. These tunes are corresponding to heavy, dark, deep, solemn and vibrant solos, as well as dramatic culminations, perturbating sessions, minimalistic samples, light and vivid excerpts and sonoristic experiments. Drums section is simply amazing – it’s dynamic, moving and constantly changing. This section is formed by Klaus Kugel. Excellent drummer and marvelous improviser is fusing together all kinds of rhythms and illustrates them with colorful and gorgeous timbres. From stable, tight and slow beats he goes to hysteric, frantic, complicated and nervous compilations of modern jazz styles, powerful, frantic and wild free improvisations, stormy and vigilante culminations or relaxing minimalistic samples. The music is bright, active and contrasting – it has original and expressive sound.

(review courtesy of © Avantscena)


Joe McPhee is unstoppable and seems to pop up everywhere, playing with dozens of great musicians from around the world: Trio X, The Thing, Peter Brotzmann Tentet, Ken Vandermark, Chris Corano, etc. For tis disc, Mr. McPhee works with UK-bassist John Edwards and German drummer, Klaus Kugel, both of whom keep pretty busy schedules as well. This is the second discs from this particular trio. although Mr. McPhee and Mr. Edwards have worked together in Decoy. This disc was recorded live at the Alchemia Club in Krakow, Poland in October of 2918. Bass great John Edwards is on way too many sessions to list here (I’ve only caught him live once or twice), I have caught drum wizard Klaus Kugel with the Ganelin Trio Priority at the Vision Fest way back when. The music here sounds spiritual, haunting, hypnotic, with Mr. Kugel starting off on spawning mallets, McPhee on sublime tenor sax and Mr. Edwards bubbling underneath on contrabass. A truly astounding, organic effort from a mighty trio of intentional fellow travellers.


(review courtesy of © Bruce Gallanter, DMG)



From a 2018 set recorded at Alchemia in Krakow, this avant-garde trio makes some beautiful if challenging music.  But challenging is a relative term, and for Joe McPhee, this was not the most radical or aggressive night.  He barely plays his trumpet during this show, and his tenor is alternately painting with broad, deep strokes, or chopping with sharp piercing runs.  English bassist John Edwards has been a cornerstone of the European improvised music scene for more than three decades, and together with German drummer Klaus Kugel, they provide a potent counterpoint to McPhee’s horn.  Edwards has plenty of drones and overtones here, but also some nifty free walking and a firm rhythmic grasp.  The trio’s spontaneity is why you want to listen, and in their open-eared and open-minded interaction we find all the avant-garde artistry we could want in a live session.

(review courtesy of © Carl Pearson, WFHB Bloomington, IN  USA)

DKV & Joe McPhee

The Fire Each Time

Rodrigo Amado, Joe McPhee, Kent Kessler, Chris Corsano

This Is Our Language

Ken Vandermark

Unexpected Alchemy

Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee

The Damage Is Done

Joe McPhee, Mikołaj Trzaska


Joe McPhee, John Edwards, Klaus Kugel

Journey To Parazzar

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