Saturday, January 07, 2006
Archie Shepp Live
Live At The Donaueschingen Music Festival
MPS 21 20651-3
Recorded 21st Octobert 1967
1. One For The Trane (part I)
2. One For The Trane (part II)
Archie Shepp; tenor sax
Roswell Rudd; trombone
Grachan Moncur; trombone
Jimmy Garrison; bass
Beaver Harris; drums
It's been a few weeks since I wrote anything about Archie Shepp, so it's time for another piece in praise of my favourite tenor player, the high priest of free jazz himself.
This 1967 live recording from the Donaueschingen Music Festival has sadly never seen a CD release - I say sadly because it's a superb album, rated by critics and fans alike as one of Shepps' finest of the 1960s. This is in no small part due to the quality of his quintet, which features the dual trombone attack of Roswell Rudd and Grachan Moncur - two Shepp regulars who were also pioneering free jazz players in their own right. Jimmy Garrison needs no introduction, having made his name as a member of Coltrane's era-defining 1960s quartet. Beaver Harris is perhaps less well known, but again stands as one of the best drummers in free jazz, appearing regularly on Shepp's recordings of this period
The music here is defiantly free - but you're definitely listening to one band. There is a musical telepathy here, with the ensemble chasing each other through the 'changes' and trading lines in a fast and furious manner. It's not just an ensemble piece - both sides of the record open with solos by key members of the group. Side One begins with Garrison reprising his role with Coltraane's quartet of opening a piece with an extended bass solo. A full 7 minutes, it lasts, 7 minutes that you will spend entranced by the possibilities of the instrument. Side 2 opens with a Shepp solo in his typical wailing, reaching style. The record features well-recorded sound that really brings out Shepp's hard edged tone to it's full effect. It also makes it simple to differentiate the trombonists - the flowing, relaxed Moncur and the angry, hard jabs of Rudd. Two trombones might seem a little unusual, but so wide is the tonal range presented that you really don't miss any higher-pitched brass.
The whole piece proceeds in a suitably engaging manner until the closing section, where the band wind down the pace and slip into a suitably unhinged reading of 'Shadow Of Your Smile', greeted warmly by the audience. Indeed, the audience reaction is so well reproduced on the record that you get the sense Shepp didn't get back to the hotel that night...
Beg, borrow or steal a copy of this record today, you will not be disappointed.