Saturday, April 08, 2006
Roswell Rudd & Archie Shepp
ROSWELL RUDD & ARCHIE SHEPP
Live In New York
Recorded 23rd-24th September 2000
at 'The Jazz Standard', New York
1. Keep your heart right
2. Acute Motelitis
5. We Are The Blues
8. Slide by Slide
10. Hope No. 2
ARCHIE SHEPP; tenor sax, piano, vocal
ROSWELL RUDD; trombone
GRACHAN MONCUR III; trombone
AMIRI BAKARA; vocal
REGGIE WORKMAN; bass
ANDREW CYRILLE; drums
I've done quite a few double-leader albums this week (a coincidence, i'm sure) but this one steps away from the established theme by not featuring Milt Jackson, or anyone connected with him. In fact it's the long-awaited reunion of two of the 1960s avant-garde's most respected hornmen - trombone giant Roswell Rudd and the great, great Archie Shepp. The great thing about the recording is that it finds both Shepp and Rudd, as well as their sidemen, to be on top form throughout - not bad for players likely to be in their 60s (Shepp would have been 63 at the time). Obviously the free improvisation they played together in the 1960s has been toned down a bit by convention and the passage of time, but it's still great to hear them kick off with 'Keep Your Heart Right', last seen on 1966's Live In San Francisco. On that album, the track is a short and rather plain introduction, a trojan horse of jazz convention transporting you into the midst of decidedly 'new thing' territory. Here it serves as a reminder of just what these men were capable of as well as showing the world that they've still got their chops.
There is a little free-jazz here and there. 'Pazuzu' features an impassioned Shepp on tenor playing with the harmonic structure of the piece in his usual fashion. The track is also a showcase for Cyrille, opening with a fine drum solo. Shepp's 'U-Jamma' has been a staple of live albums since the mid-1970s and usually features some free playing - thankfully this is just as true in 2000 as it was in 1975. Everyone else sticks to more conventional harmonic ground, which is fine as the playing is, once again, top notch. I really like Shepp's piano playing on this track - he's usually pretty basic on that instrument, but is good enough here to get me thinking "hey, who's that great pianist" with his understated accompaniment to Rudd and Moncur.
Reggie Workman has always been one of my favourite bass players, and his solo at the beginning of 'Slide by Slide' is enough to convince me that he's still got it. As the name would suggest, this is also a feature for the twin trombones of Rudd and Moncur.
On release this album drew a warm reception from the critics, as evidenced by this and this review.