July 20, 2024


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CD review: Decoy with Joe McPhee – AC/DC 2020: Video, CD cover

Two totally infectious sets from Decoy — the trio of John Edwards, Steve Noble, and Alexander Hawkins — reunited with pocket trumpet and saxophone player Joe McPhee on the closing night of his four day residency at Cafe OTO.

In the eight years between the recordings which make up AC/DC and their last release Spontaneous Combustion (ROKU 002CD, 2014), Decoy and each of its members have been practicing individually at the very top of their form. Coming together again in such celebratory circumstances and in the good company of a fantastic crowd set the scene for a very special night. As they begin, Alexander Hawkins casts a needling surface between his Hammond organ and John Edwards’s loose splatters and slaps of low-end bass. McPhee skitters over them with his pocket trumpet by way of introduction; Steve Noble strikes his rims in anticipation. The first set sees moments of frenetic free jazz peel off into weirdo soul territory and when switched to saxophone halfway through, McPhee’s romantic lyricism is utterly beautiful. When a groove sets in, Hawkins’s B3 ascension in harmony with an ever-powerful Edwards-Noble rhythm section sees the room thicken and swirl to the point of giddiness. There is one unreal part at 22:22 where we’re sure you can hear Edwards’s bass vocalizing. Regrouped for a second set, Steve Noble’s metallic textures meld with detuned arco bass to create an unholy atmosphere, ripe for Hawkins to play out the eerier end of the Hammond. When McPhee sounds a sax motif the band catches it quickly and it’s soon wickedly morphed and stretched by each player, recurring to absurdity in a stoned-out funk free for all. The whole recording bleeds enthusiasm and joyful imagination and is a brilliant document of an unforgettable evening. Decoy are a limitless band who play nowhere near enough.


1. A/C 35:53
2. D/C 43:14

John Edwards – bass
Alexander Hawkins – Hammond B3
Joe McPhee – pocket trumpet, alto sax, voice
Steve Noble – drums

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