Sunday, January 28, 2007

Archie Shepp - Montreux One (Arista Freedon, 1975)

This album by Archie Shepp shows another side to the man who came onto the jazz scene in the mid 1960's as a New Ting firebrand. Accompanied by Charles Greenlee on trombone, Dave Burrell on piano, Cameron Brown on bass and Beaver Harris on drums, tenor saxophonist Shepp and the band cut quite a mainstream groove on part one of a two LP set of their performance at the 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival. Leading off with Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" Shepp takes his time improvising in a deeply meditative tone. "U-Jamaa" changes gears to some more slightly abstract playing, where Greenlee is featured on some flatulent, slurred trombone. "Crusificado" is straight up hard bop with a slight Latin feel, and a has a very nice piano trio interlude. "Miss Toni" has some fine soloing from Shepp and Greenlee in a uptempo straight ahead groove. Burrell adds another excellent solo over bass and drums. This was one of the albums that set the stage for Shepp's relative abandonment of free playing and embracing the traditions of bebop, blues and spirituals. It's an interesting record of a musician in transition.

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