Monday, July 29, 2013

Archie Shepp and the Full Moon Ensemble - Live at Antibes (BYG/Actuel, 1970, 2013)

Like many saxophonists and jazz musicians in general, Archie Shepp moved to New York City in 1959 in search of becoming a professional musician. Things moved slowly, but by 1965 he had performed with pianist Cecil Taylor and had made the acquaintance of several musicians in the burgeoning free jazz or "new thing" cadre. Most importantly was his relationship with the great saxophonist John Coltrane who recommended him for Impulse Records. Shepp recorded for about a decade with Impulse, but also for other labels like BYG/Actuel which released this concert featuring Shepp on tenor saxophone, piano and vocals, Clifford Thornton on trumpet and piano, Alan Shorter on flugelhorn, Joseph Dejean on guitar, Beb Guerin on bass and Claude Delcloo on drums. The album is taken from two concerts at the French jazz festival in 1970 with "The Early Bird: Parts 1 and 2" on the first disc and then "Huru: Parts 1 and 2" on the second disc. The music is very wide open and seems use piano as its anchor, with either Shepp or Thornton laying down massive slabs of dark keyboards that lock in with the deeply percussive bass and drums to give the music a haunting and hypnotic effect. Shepp takes a lengthy saxophone solo on "Huru: Part One" where he ranges from deep guttural moans to high energy squalls and howls. "The Early Bird" he incorporates vocals and shouts from his composition "Mama Rose" into the overall fabric of the performance. This is a very interesting and freewheeling set of music. It is a fine example of the way that jazz had evolved in the early 1970's. Incorporating elements of African music as well as the past and present in jazz, it makes for compelling listening. Live in Antibes - amazon.com

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