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Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp & Joachim kuhn
@ the Queen Elizabeth hall, Southbank Centre
17 November 2011

Click an image to enlarge.

Archie Shepp biography

Saxophone player, composer, pianist, singer, politically committed poet, playwright, Archie Shepp is a legend.

Archie Shepp was born in 1937 in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. He grew up in Philadelphia, studied piano and saxophone and attended high school in Germantown; he went to college, became involved with theatre, met writers and poets, among them, Leroy Jones and wrote: ‘The Communist,’ an allegorical play about the situation of black Americans. In the late fifties, Archie Shepp also met the most radical musicians of the time: Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Garrisson, Ted Curson, Beaver Harris… his political consciousness found an expression in plays and theatrical productions which barely allowed him to make a living. In the beginning sixties he met Cecil Taylor and did two recordings with him which were determining. In 1962 he signed his first record with Bill Dixon as co-leader. During the following year, he created the New York Contemporary Five with John Tchichai, made four records for Fontana, Storyville and Savoy and travelled to Europe with this group.

Starting in August 1964, he worked with Impulse and made 17 records among which, “Four For Trane,” “Fire Music,” and “Mama Too Tight,” some of the classics of Free Music. His collaboration with John Coltrane materialised further with “Ascension in” 1965, a real turning point in Avant-Garde music. His militancy was evidenced by his participation in the creation of the Composers Guild with Paul and Carla Bley, Sun RA, Roswell Rudd and Cecil Taylor.

In July 1969 he went for the first time to Africa for the Pan African Festival in Algiers where many black American militants were living. On this occasion he recorded “Live for Byg” the first of six albums in the Actual series.

In 1969 he began teaching Ethnomusicology at the University of Amherst, Massachusetts; at the same time he continued to travel around the world while continuing to express his identity as an African American musician. The dictionary of Jazz (Robert Laffont, Bouquins) defines him in the following way: “A first rate artist and intellectual, Archie Shepp has been at the head of the Avant- Garde Free Jazz movement and has been able to join the mainstream of Jazz, while remaining true to his esthetic. He has developed a true poli-instrumentality: an alto player, he also plays soprano since 1969, piano since 1975 and more recently occasionally sings blues and standards.”

He populates his musical world with themes and stylistic elements provided by the greatest voices of jazz: from Ellington to Monk and Mingus, from Parker to Siver and Taylor. His technical and emotional capacity enables him to integrate the varied elements inherited by the Masters of Tenor from Webster to Coltrane into his own playing but according to his very own combination: the wild raspiness of his attacks, his massive sound sculpted by a vibrato mastered in all ranges, his phrases carried to breathlessness, his abrupt level changes, the intensity of his tempos but also the velvety tenderness woven into a ballad. His play consistently deepens the spirit of the two faces of the original black American music: blues and spirituals. His work with classics and with his own compositions (Bessie Smith’s Black Water Blues or Mama Rose) contributes to maintaining alive the power of strangeness of these two musics in relationship to European music and expresses itself in a unique mix of wounded violence and age-old nostalgia.

The scope of his work which registered in the eighties a certain urgency (at the cost of a few discrepancies) is a witness to the fact that in 1988 Archie Shepp was with Sonny Rollins one of the best interpreters in the babelian history of jazz. With his freedom loving sensitivity Archie Shepp has made an inestimable contribution to the gathering, the publicizing and the inventing of jazz.

Joachim Kühn biography

After becoming a professional jazz musician in 1961, German pianist Joachim Kühn has for many years been a higly respected performer of European improvised music.

Although not a free jazz musician, per se, Kuhn has been an avant-gardist; he began attempting a fusion of contemporary classical elements with jazz very early in his career.

Kuhn's intense virtuosity is a reflection of his training. He studied classical composition and piano for 12 years, beginning when he was a small child. He performed as a classical pianist up until 1961, at which point he began playing in a Prague-based jazz quintet. He led a trio from 1962-1966, and in 1964 began playing with his much-older brother Rolf Kuhn, an accomplished clarinetist.

In the '70s, Joachim Kuhn led his own groups, and played with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Kuhn had a measure of commercial success in the '70s. Geographically and musically speaking, Kühn was furthest apart from Europe during the second half of the 70's when he lived in California and joined the West Coast fusion scene. Crossover stars, such as Alphonse Mouson, Billy Cobham, Michael Brecker, and Eddie Gomez participated in his recordings. Simultaneously, he was frequently to be heard solo and in a duo with Jan Akkerman.He has also worked with Focus guitarist Philip Catherine.

His star faded a bit in the '80s, but Kuhn kept active, playing challenging forms of jazz and recording occasionally. A 1997 release, “Colors” Live From Leipzig, a duo with Ornette Coleman, helped fuel new interest in Kuhn; both men were in top form and the album received excellent reviews.

Joachim Kühn

Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn

Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn

Joachim Kühn Joachim Kühn

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp


Recommended
Listening

 

The Magic Of Ju-Ju A Sea Of Faces
Attica Blues Fire Music Mama Too Tight John Coltrane / Archie Shepp - New Thing At Newport
Four For Trane The Impulse Story Kwanza Archie Shepp / Dollar Brand - Duet
Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan - Trouble in mind Archie Shepp / Roy Haynes - Way Ahead ArchieShep, Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio - Conversations Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan - Goin' Home
Archie Shepp,& Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen The Cry Of My People Archie Shepp / Joachim  Kühn - Wo!man Joachim Kuhn, Eddie Jobson, Eric Watson and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Colors

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