Music of the Day #37 - Archie Shepp:
For a young teenager, Archie Shepp is somewhat a particular choice to have as a musical idol. Yet amongst other things, it was his conversational approach to playing the saxophone that spoke to me. Moreover, he is a true eclectic.Shepp opened the set for John Coltrane at the Newport jazz festival in 1965. At that time he was a young and upcoming musician associated with the new free jazz movement (he is one of the many musicians playing on Coltrane's album 'Ascension'). Since then, Shepp continuously recorded albums with various groups and formations - quartets, septets, big bands, duos - and collaborated with singers and poets; he also wrote plays and music for films. His music tends to straddle genres and combine tradition with modernism and avant-garde.
Archie Shepp was part of my early musical landscape. I was particularly smitten by his series of duo recordings with pianist Horace Parlan in the early 80s. After entering the scene as someone who was breaking all the rules, these recordings introduced him as Archie Shepp the traditionalist playing beautiful renditions of spirituals as well as ballads by Ellington and Coltrane. The reason I'm sharing Archie Shepp's music with you today is that I recently discovered an album I had not heard of before: a duo between Shepp and the South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (back then known as Dollar Brand).
Below you can listen to a piece I picked from that album as well as to ’Trouble in Mind’ performed by Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan.
Trouble in Mind (Richard M. Jones)
Archie Shepp: tenor sax Horace Parlan: piano from 'Trouble In Mind' (SteepleChase, 1980)
Left Alone (Mal Waldron)
Archie Shepp: soprano sax Dollar Brand: piano from 'Duet' (Dennon Records / Savoy Jazz, 1978)