Roulette At Location One
"These are pieces which the trio has often played before and they master the themes to perfection, yet still managing to bring them in a refreshingly innovative way. The same level, with recognizable themes throughout (Ellington, Monk), is kept up on the rest of the live album. The variation between serene pieces and intense passages, the technical mastery and the telepathic interplay of the three musicians, is absolutely stellar. The small crowd attending the performance is enthusiastic, and rightly so. This is what music is all about. Highly recommended."
In Black and White
"When they are "on," the members of Trio X play music that is as good as it gets, and evidence of that is amply abundant here, with some important and exciting interpretations of the emotionally vibrant "God Bless the Child," the Ayler-esque "Goin' Home," and the poignant "'Round Midnight and Later.”... It is the melodies that shed the most light on the group's strategies, which interpret and continually reinterpret the essence of song in a surprisingly and strikingly accessible way (Steve Loewy, allmusic.com)"
On Tour ... Toronto / Rochester
"With the caliber of musicians comprising the trio, it is not surprising that there is a consistently high quality to these unusual interpretations, which, for the most part, merely hint at recognizable melodies. For example, "Monkin' Around" skirts around "Blue Monk" without totally absorbing it, while "My Funny Valentine" just touches on the melody. - Steve Loewy, AllMusic"
"Much of the credit is due to Joe McPhee's exquisite sense of melody: even when intense, he infuses every note with thoughtful control. The results reflect the group's natural reticence and attraction to nuance, something that is especially evident on "Journey." Overall, though, this is not music for the fainthearted, as delicacy is juxtaposed with aggressive expression. On "Albert's Alto," for example, the ghost of Albert Ayler is resurrected but never cloned, and his spirit absorbed and reincarnated. The closing "Amazing Grace," in memory of Dominic Duval's late wife, is perhaps the highlight of the album, a lovely, even exquisitely executed reflection of deeply held sentiments. - Steve Loewy, AllMusic"
The Watermelon Suite
"McPhee is such a versatile player that sparks fly whether he blows a saxophone or trumpet. Here, he performs solely on the soprano sax, joined by bassist Dominic Duval and percussionist Jay Rosen. The mood is generally more pensive than to be expected, although fires are lit in a few of the pieces. McPhee shows himself to be a thoughtful, sensitive player, where every note counts and space is just as important. - Steve Loewy, AllMusic "
The Sugarhill Suite
"The musicians address a narrow window within a broad perspective. The recording as a whole describes a memory of the epitome of the Harlem Renaissance and how musicians came out of that time still longing for a recurrence of the dream of the focal point which was Sugar Hill- --where resided the quintessence of the African-American culture.... one whole world within a geometry of avenues and streets. The music possesses a substantive subtlety. It is taut and somewhat restrained, even though the fluidity of McPhee’s tenor lines overrides the tightness of the rhythm section. The music is soft even when it is loud. The music grows out of melody into abstraction easily, without fracture (Lyn Horton, jazzreview.com)"
Universal Indians with Joe McPhee
"(Universal Indians; John Dikeman, Jon Rune Strøm & Tollef Østvang) have the partnership of another one of the “new thing” mavericks, Joe McPhee. Now, you may ask: is this a nostalgic celebration of the past, with the same kind of revisionist perspectives we find in present recuperations of the bebop formats? No. That wouldn’t be possible with the involvement of someone like McPhee, even if the American relocated in Amsterdam and the two Norwegian improvisers wanted it, and they don’t. Their guest is widely known for his achievements in renewing the free sub genre, and in his path he made important contributions to other music practices. This record reflects that openness and what you have here is the free jazz after free jazz. Intrigued enough?"