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Archie Shepp


Archie Shepp (piano): Al Shorter (flugelhorn): Bob Reid (bass): Muhammed Ali (percussion)

Recorded c 1969

IC 1001 [39:58]


Sweet Georgia Brown

Doodlin – takes 1 and 2


Worried About You

If You Could See Me Now

More Than You Know

Coral Rock


It’s Archie Shepp here but not as usually encountered. For this session, he sat down at the keyboard for a session largely but not exclusively with bassist Bob Reid that took in everything from Sweet Georgia Brown to the song John Coltrane liked so much, Matt Dennis’s Invitation.

Shepp’s pianism was predicated almost wholly on lines established by Thelonious Monk. That said, Shepp wasn’t very good and played moreover on an instrument that was the pianistic equivalent of a skinned cat. It was horribly out of tune. Georgia Brown gets the hobbly Monkish treatment veering toward a kind of satiric-Stride and ending rather inertly. There are two takes of Horace Silver’s Doodlin’, which responds to Shepp’s cussed Monkisms, though it doesn’t help that he has no technique to speak of. Shepp had heard Coltrane play Invitation and despite the bovinely repetitive left hand vamping, there are bustling right hand flurries and moments too of real tenderness.

Percussionist Muhammed Ali and Al Shorter – brother of the more famous Wayne – appear in Shepp’s own composition Worried About You, where a repetitive piano figure provokes both instrumentalists into fevered outpourings – in Shorter’s case, flugelhorn flurries and in the percussionist’s rather Latino effects. At heart, it all remains an inconsequential vamp. But there are deft, even winsome elements at play in the primitive but communicative If You Could See Me Now where Reid’s busy-busy bass supports more Monkish manoeuvres. The final tracks are allusive, sometimes quietly ruminative, even romantic in places. Shepp lacks the ability to furnish a more rounded quality to his playing on the piano but he does at least develop sharply defined characterisation.

Nat Hentoff’s extensive sleeve notes have been retained and rightly so.

One for the Shepp Completist.

Jonathan Woolf

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