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Nameless Sound was established in 2001 to present the best of international contemporary music and to support the exploration of new methods in arts education

Nameless Sound presents concerts by premier artists in the world of creative music. In addition, Nameless Sound artists work directly with students from Houston’s public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters. Nameless Sound’s educational work helps to nurture a new generation of artists and inspire tomorrow’s creative thinkers

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Arts Houston

Nameless Sound

Joe McPhee's
Survival Unit III

Joe McPhee Survival Unit III

Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios
  1824 Spring Street, Houston, TX 77007

  Wednesday May 24, 2017

Nameless Sound closes its 15th season with two concerts of special significance.
Please click here for information about the Birthday Celebration and Memorial for Pauline Oliveros
featuring Joe McPhee plus the Nameless Sound Ensemble on Saturday, May 27th.
- Discounted tickets for both nights below -


$13 General Admission | $10 student | FREE under 18
Tickets to both this concert and the Oliveros Celebration: $20

Joe McPhee's Survival Unit III:

Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, NY)
- reeds and brass
Fred Longberg-Holm (Chicago, IL)
- cello, electronics
Michael Zerang (Chicago, IL)
- percussion

Direct and emotionally expressive, Joe McPhee’s horn playing exemplifies the instrument as an extension of the human voice. His music “speaks”, even suggesting a lyrical consciousness in its phrasing and construction. Its sense of humanity is mapped in the range of its intimate stories and ecstatic cries. 

But while McPhee’s music is one of direct communication, it also reveals that authentic human expression may necessitate profoundly experimental approaches. Though identified with the radical movements of jazz in the 1960’s, Joe McPhee has always been a steadfast individual. Hailing from upstate in Poughkeepsie, he did not emerge from jazz’s officially designated center of New York City. Early LP’s like 1970’s Nation Time may align him with the firebrand music of the era. But McPhee has made many of his most distinct statements on projects that circumnavigate and defy idiom: drummerless ensembles, compositions with synthesizers and electronics (both from collaborators and from McPhee himself) and albums of unaccompanied solos. A theoretical approach informed by Pauline Oliveros’ “Deep Listening” as well as Dr. Edward de Bono’s “Lateral Thinking” problem-solving techniques may have contributed to expressive solutions outside the expectations of idiom. 

From the mid-1970’s through the 80’s, McPhee’s career mostly developed in Europe. And while he maintained a base in Poughkeepsie, he kept a pretty low profile in the US.  Severely overdue for wider recognition, the 90’s saw a new interest in his music in the States, much of it from a younger crowd of listeners and collaborators profoundly influenced by his European records. Joe McPhee is now one of the most beloved voices in the music, both stateside and abroad. This appearance by Survival Unit III marks 20 years since his first concert in Houston, which was also the first concert presented by future Nameless Sound Founder David Dove (while an Artist Board Member at Diverse Works). It also marks 15 years since McPhee first returned to Houston to close the inaugural concert season of Nameless Sound, then operating as The Pauline Oliveros Foundation Houston.


Joe McPhee

Fred Longberg-Holm

Michael Zerang