Good Music We Can Know

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Genius of Free Jazz: Archie Shepp- The Magic of Ju-Ju (1967)

A while back I was remarking to someone that I could never really find anything as good as Archie Shepp's Coral Rock, and he got sort of maximum paternal and suggested I hear this album before I think I know Archie Shepp. Well, if you ask me, it doesn't exactly blow Coral Rock out of the water, but it is an amazing album, if not his masterpiece. Shepp is such a gifted player, possessing an exquisite alchemy of savagery, sophistication and soul that is totally unlike his peers. No one would mistake this-- or any Shepp recording-- for, say, Coltrane or Pharaoh Sanders, and despite a shared interest in African music/instrumentation and its intersection with passionate improvisation, neither of them would have arranged a track as barren, repetitive, and scorchingly single-minded as the title track from The Magic of Ju-Ju. Perhaps what sets Shepp furthest apart is his palpable anger. Where others of his generation pursued a spiritual elevation, Shepp often preferred to display an intellectual rage and achieve his catharsis in that way.

As for the album, Allmusic does a serviceable description here:

"Shepp's emotional and fiery tenor takes off immediately, gradually morphing with the five percussionists who perform on instruments including rhythm logs and talking drums. Shepp never loses the initial energy, moving forward like a man possessed as the drumming simultaneously builds into a fury. Upon the final three minutes, the trumpets of Martin Banks and Michael Zwerin make an abrupt brief appearance, apparently to ground the piece to a halt. This is one of Shepp's most chaotic yet rhythmically hypnotic pieces"

Another essential record from Shepp. Good VBR rip.


Coral Rock is here

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