Good Music We Can Know

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Black Art Music: Archie Shepp and the Family of Percussion- Here Comes the Family (1980)

Here's a marvellously vibrant, off-the-wall, and cosmically hip slab of brilliance from Archie Shepp and the Family of Percussion. This is really a treasure of late-period Shepp, an artist who may not have ever gone soft, exactly, but whose later output has trouble standing up to the radically powerful and important utter avalanche of creativity and productivity he managed to achieve in the 60s and 70s.

This record features more eastern inflected percussion than one might expect from Shepp, whose African influences are typically more rough-hewn and savage. It's so meditatively repetitious at first that you might reasonably assume this to be a late 70's Don Cherry outing-- until the spoken word and pseudo-rapping begins, giving the whole thing the kind of socially angry urban connection that Shepp was always seeking. Shepp was frequently outspoken in pointing out that jazz was moving to the white community, shirking its relevance to its culture and leaving the black youth behind-- all the while insisting that "jazz" itself was an antiquated notion, that his responsibility was to the creation of a "black art music" with no limits to its sophistication and abstraction... this record may showcase a better example of that dichotomy coexisting than most.

So highly recommended, my friends. (Thanks to Orgy in Rhythm for first posting this, oh so long ago)