Thursday, November 03, 2005

Archie Shepp - Paris 1969, part 3



BYG Actuel 18

Recorded 16th August 1969

  1. My Angel
  2. Blasé
  3. There is a Balm in Gilead
  4. Sophisticated Lady
  5. Touareg


ARCHIE SHEPP; tenor saxophone

JEANNE LEE; vocals

LESTER BOWIE; trumpet, flugelhorn





The final of Archie Shepp’s August 1969 Paris sessions is as intriguing as the first two (producing “Yasmina, a Black Woman” and “Poem for Malcolm” respectively). This session takes another stylistic turn, being much more laid back than either of the others – the calm after the storm of the 12th and 14th. It’s very much a Sunday morning, compared to he frenetic Friday and Saturday nights of the previous two recordings.

For a start, this is a much more song-based album than either of it’s immediate predecessors, the vocalist taking a leading role on most of the album’s 5 tracks. The opening “My Angel” features some fine harmonica playing as well as another of the rhythm section’s fine circular grooves underpinning the dual soloists of Lee and Shepp. The title track follows, again featuring a hypnotic, repeated figure with soloing on top, but this time the tempo is much slower, and the key minor and melancholy. Although often regarded as a firebrand, Shepp’s playing in the opening of this track is full of emotion, even if the tone is sometimes harsh.

“There is a Balm in Gilead” continues the mood with a fine vocal performance and more impassioned tenor playing. “Sophisticated Lady” is indeed that – a nice piece of vocal jazz that, dissonant piano introduction aside – it would not be out of place entertaining guests at an upmarket hotel. It’s just a bit too nice – you expect more passion from an Archie Shepp record, and there’s little of that on display here. Those looking for passion would be well advised to head straight to the closing “Touareg” which invokes well the spirit of the previous 2 sessions with some fine free blowing from Shepp.

3 days, 3 remarkable sessions, 3 very differing styles, but the one constant running through all of these recordings is the sense of spontaneity created by all of these different musicians coming together. More than anything else, these sides show that there need be no stylistic rules in music, if it feels and sounds good, then it is good, no matter what style it’s in.

No comments: