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Archie Shepp

234 posts in this topic

My Shepp is short. I DO need some more Shepp. Could have searched on AMG but I prefer to know your recommendations and comments. No general thread on Shepp found at organissimo.

This is what I have from this guy up until now:

As a leader:

Four for Trane (Impulse, 1964)

On this night (Impulse, 1965)

Mama too tight (Impulse, 1966)

The way ahead (Impulse, 1968-69)

Yasmina, a black woman (Charly-Le jazz, 1969)

Attica blues (Impulse, 1972)

As a sideman:

The world of Cecil Taylor (Candid, 1960)

Ascension - John Coltrane (Impulse, 1965)

Love his playing. I would place it (I´d like to know your impressions on this matter, I´m sure you´ll put me in my place if this is nonsense ;) ) between Coltrane and Ayler´s. Sometimes Archie´s near mid-to-late Trane (his phrasing, even his tone) and sometimes I find him near Albert Ayler´s "screaming", short phrases, almost inarticulate crying....

What do you think?

Thanks in advance

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I do have pretty much the same discs as you. One you could check out is STEAM (enja), a live date with Cameron Brown and Beaver Harris. The other Enja I have is pretty disappointing (it's called Soul Song, if I remember right), and the recent HatOLOGY reissue seems to be pretty similar (at least going from the line up).

ubu

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I have really gained far greater appreciation for Shepp, especially in his small group settings - duets most particularly.

Check out his stuff with NHOP (Looking at Bird) and Horace Parlan (Trouble in Mind and Goin' Home).

Deep and bluesy, but adventurous and soulful. Wailing, hollering, muttering. Shepp could capture it all. Unfiltered.

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Shepp's later output has been rather erratic. There's a lot of not so good stuff, but also some very nice stuff. I will have to dive into this stuff again before I can give you advice.

From the top of my head, there's

St Louis Blues on the PAO label (1998) Very intimate playing on this one.

Black Ballads on Timeless (1992)

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The Magic Of Ju-Ju

The recent quartet CDs on Venus are the best examples of "latter day" Shepp IMHO.

There's a new Shepp on a label I've never heard of called Tomorrow Will Be Another Day.

Haven't heard it yet. Caught my eye because it has Amina Claudine Meyer (?sp.) on piano.

Anyone listen to this one yet?

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I'm not a fan of stuff that's too far "out," but I've got a pair of Shepp CDs I love. One is called "Trouble in Mind" and it's just him and Horace Parlan doing a bunch of early blues-type stuff (St. James Infirmary, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, etc.).

It's an ideal late-night/early morning chill-out disc, w/both players doing a fantastic job.

I also have a disc called "On Green Dolphin Street" w/Shepp, Joe Chambers, Sam Jones and Walter Bishop Jr. Here, Shepp goes just the right distance "outside" for me, and it makes a great complement to the more straight-ahead approach of the others.

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I know this may sound strange, but Archie Shepp is one of those artists who I don't like for themselves but for the company they keep.

I have most of his 1960's Impulse dates and a few others not on Impulse because his sidemen include Grachan Moncur, Roswell Rudd, Marion Brown, Beaver Harris,Don Cherry, John Tchaicai (spelling?) and other infrequently recorded players from that era.

But as for Shepp's soloing itself, it's never done anything for me, although I will grant that some of the tunes he wrote are interesting and the arranging he did on his albums often contains some very nice ensemble work.

That said, I would say the two albums I enjoy the most are "4 for Trane," and "The Way Ahead."

Edited by HWright

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LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO (Impulse) with Roswell Rudd is two sessions; the first is great (they're reissued together).

Live in SF is excellent. I also dig On This Night, also on Impulse.

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Be sure and get "Fire Music," a genuine classic (IMO). The CD version also includes an incredible live recording of Hambone from Newport, an absolute killer!

I also highly recommend Live at the Donaueschingen Music Festival

Day Dream is a personal favorite of mine with an entire Ellington program and Shepp at his most lyrical.

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I'll agree with BeBop and Chrome and give a 3rd shout out for "Trouble In Mind" with Horace Parlan on Steeplechase. :tup:tup:tup

31139.jpg

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I run somewhat hot and cold on Mr. Shepp; Four For Trane, the first side of Fire Music, the title tune of Mama Too Tight (even if it sounds v. like JB's "Money Won't Change You" to my ears) and occassional other tune on Impulse are all hot, IMHO. I also v. much like the duets with Horace P. (Going Home and Touble In Mind) even though they are too meditative to be acurately described as "hot". But everything I've heard since then (20+ years) has shown evidence of severe embachure (sp?!) deteriation, odd since he does seem to work pretty steady nonetheless. And he always seemed to have an extramusical agenda, like he was more in love with the idea of being a sax player than interested in the work it took to actually be one. But when he was on, it really was the Fire (Music) This Time...

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I have a lot of Shepp recordings in my collection. Just want to list a few favorites that haven't been mentioned yet:

Duet w. Dollar Brand (Denon)

Blase (originally BYG, recently reissued - Varese?)

Attica Blues Big Band (Marge CD, originally on 2 Blue Marge LPs)

Shepp a Massy (Unitidelis 2 LPs - Long out of print, but Dusty Groove had a copy recently.

Tenors of Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp (YAL) - fine playing by both tenors.

I like Shepp's playing with the New York Contemporary 5 - Live at Jazzhus Montmartre is probably my favorite - don't know if it's currently in print.

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Let's not forget the duo album with Max Roach 'The Long March' on HatArt which was recorded at the time Roach was making duo dates with people like Cecil Talor and Anthony Braxton. The Shepp-Roach encounter was something!

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"Four For Trane" is the one to get, but "On This Night" and "The Way Ahead" are pretty good too. If you can find on The Bill Dixon/Archie Shepp Quartet on Savoy is essential listening.

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For later Shepp...

d90722axe78.jpg

9141.jpg

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For later Shepp...

d90722axe78.jpg

aaah yes!

I recently got a copy of the album Hi Fly he did with Karin Krog. I am ashamed to admit I haven't even listened to it yet. Is it any good? (easy to answer by listening I know, but maybe someone has something to add)

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I didn't see it mentioned, but I like Steam -- a cpuple of great cuts there...

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Let's not forget the duo album with Max Roach 'The Long March' on HatArt which was recorded at the time Roach was making duo dates with people like Cecil Talor and Anthony Braxton. The Shepp-Roach encounter was something!

:tup:tup:tup

Love these two!

ubu

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on my last post: there were two albums holding the Shepp/Roach material.

EKE, I read a little fast through your list, and did not see you missed some of the early Impulse material. All of them have been mentioned already, now, but I like to stress how good they are: Fire Music, Live In San Francisco, and The Way Ahead.

Chris, I did mention Steam - a beautiful record indeed!

Paul, I tried to get the Contemporary 5 disc you mention recently, and did not find one... seems to be OOP!

However I got the Savoy Dixon/Shepp CD JohnS mentioned, and this is a keeper! Although I even like the Dixon stuff better, the three Shepp/Contemporary 5 tracks are good, too!

Then I also recently found the Attica Blues Big Band 2CD set. AMG gives it a rave review. I like it, but it's sort of a bag full of several, stylistically very different, things. What's others opinion on this?

Joe, could you elaborate on the recent Waldron/Shepp CD? I thought about picking it up, but did not do so yet.

ubu

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Let's not forget the duo album with Max Roach 'The Long March' on HatArt which was recorded at the time Roach was making duo dates with people like Cecil Talor and Anthony Braxton. The Shepp-Roach encounter was something!

:tup:tup:tup

Love these two!

ubu

Force was the other Roach/Shepp duo recording, 2 LPs, originally on the French Unitelidis label, issued in Japan on JVC.

Edited by paul secor

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The recent quartet CDs on Venus are the best examples of "latter day" Shepp IMHO.

These are, bar none, my favorite Shepp albums. I dig all of his more challenging dates a lot, too, but there's something about laying that searing tone over soft ballads--musical equivalent of sweet and sour pork?--that does it for me.

Plus, just like all of the other Venus recordings I've heard, the recording quality is so good that you could hear a pin drop...

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For later Shepp...

d90722axe78.jpg aaah yes!

I recently got a copy of the album Hi Fly he did with Karin Krog. I am ashamed to admit I haven't even listened to it yet. Is it any good? (easy to answer by listening I know, but maybe someone has something to add)

Hell Yeah. Krog positively smoulders on this. It's a late 70s date. I like the transition period Shepp when he was moving inside.

Edited by randyhersom

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The Shepp/Bill Dixon Savoy session has alluded me. Would love to have that. Was reading in Alyn Shipton's "New History Of Jazz" today, and he made the interesting point that Shepp's radicalism was more in his poetry and dramatic writing for the stage than in his music, and pointed to the Impulse that has Trane's band on one side, Shepp's on the other. In general Shipton observes Trane's music as more intense and "radical," less tied to, say, the ballad tradition that Shepp was so in love with. (Obviously I'm talking about that one recording). Though Shepp came up in Philly with Cal Massey and some of the same musical teachers and influences Coltrane experienced, Shepp said he got a lot out of Cecil Taylor's intelligence, too.

Shepp's return to the recording studio in the 1980's on Steeplechase was even more "conservative" than his previous work, with Ben Webster and images of pouring molasses coming to mind. (That, of course, is not to knock the duo with NHOP in a program of Bird's tunes, nor the Gospel or Blues records with Parlan).

Fire Music directly inspired Chicago tenor saxophonist Edward Wilkerson when he put together his band "8 Bold Souls."

The recording Shepp made on Delmark with Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio and the Verve concert tape with Roswell Rudd and Grachan Moncur III (isn't that the one?) show Shepp in the 1990's as a horn player, frankly, out of practice, with the Verve album finding him playing piano and singing to take a break from that big tenor. Thanks goodness he was well documented, thanks to Trane, in his younger prime. The New Contemporary Five still rocks my world.

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Here is a nice review of the Dixon/Shepp disc:

http://www.jazzweekly.com/reviews/bdixon_savoy.htm

They do NOT appear together, by the way, in case this was misunderstood. First side is Bill Dixon (with Ken McIntyre, George Barrow, Howard Johnson a.o.), second side is Archie Shepp (with Don Cherry or Ted Curson). The CD has some good liners, too.

Then I did a casual in the background listen again to the Attica Blues Big Band live 2CD set, and this one is BAAD! It really blew me! Alright, some of the vocals are not really necessary, but there's much fine work, much groove, maybe Shepp's most fully successful mix of Great Black Music. Funky, groovy, soulful, free vibes... a real winner! Nice Cal Massey tunes, a good take on one of Randy Weston's most famous compositions (Hi-Fly), good solos from the likes of Eddie Preston, Charles Greenlee, Shepp himself. Then Avery Sharpe (often on electric bass) and Clifford Jarvis make a great rhythm team, Art Mathews on piano is cool, too...

Here comes the AMG review:

From the outset, Archie Shepp's terminally misunderstood Attica Blues on Impulse during the 1970s was an attempt by the saxophonist and composer to bring together the various kinds of African American musics under one heading and have them all express the conscience of the day. His ensemble featured singers, string players, horns, drums, guitars, etc. The sounds were a Gordian knot of jazz, free music, R&B, soul, groove, and even funk. In 1979 Shepp was given the opportunity to realize the project with an ensemble of his choosing at the Palais des Glaces in Paris (New York was already courting Wimpton Marsalis). Shepp chose 30 musicians and director/conductor Ray Copeland. Among the throng were saxophonists Marion Brown, John Purcell, Patience Higgins, and John Ware. Malachi Thompson led a five-trumpet section, and Steve Turre led the trombones, a young Brandon Ross played guitar, Avery Sharpe was one of two bassists, Clifford Jarvis held down the drum chair, Shepp played all his horns and piano — though Art Matthews was the primary pianist on the gig. There were four vocalists and a string section. None of this would mean anything, of course, if the music weren't bad to the bone. From the opening moments of the "Attica Blues Theme, Pt. One" it becomes obvious that, with its drop-dead funky bass line and wailing soul vocals that create the mood, this will be a celebratory evening of education, protest, and groove. From here, Shepp moves the band into "Steam," with the funk and anger already present. But this track is far more laid-back in its big band arrangement than it was on the Shepp's Inner City version of some years before. It features a gorgeous vocal by Joe Lee Wilson, who has the chops of Sammy Davis Jr. and the depth of Big Joe Turner. And here is where Attica Blues truly begins, as "Steam" reaches its swinging nadir, and Shepp begins to fold in works by other composer such as Cal Massey ("Quiet Dawn"), Randy Weston ("Hi-Fly"), and Dave Burrell ("Crucificado") in with his own works, and the varying elements of free jazz and Latin music begin to make their presences felt on the R&B and swing accents that Attica Blues opens up for the magical treatise it is. Shepp's own playing is fell of depth and passion, though he leaves his fire music at home, preferring to work inside traditions and allow the music's freedom to dictate its own expression in places rather than as a whole. The history lesson moves on well into the second set with Frank Foster's "Simone" and Ramsey Lewis' gospel-tinged "Skippin," before coming out on the other end with a majestic resurgence of "Attica Blues" to bring it in. This is big band arranging and execution at its best; Shepp and Coleman make it all sound so easy, though charts are anything, but when you're fusing together so many different kinds of music. This is the high point of the latter part of Shepp's career, and it's a cultural crime that it's not available on an American label and sold as a work that belongs next to Mingus' Ah Um, Miles' Bitches Brew, Ornette's Science Fiction, and other notable works by the masters. — Thom Jurek

(It's five stars, by the way, as if you didn't guess that after reading...)

Grab this baby when you get a chance!

ubu

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