Saturday, 15 October 2011

Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn - Wo!man


My one and only experience of Archie Shepp was again courtesy of that lucky-dip, treasure trove of albums from the Ipswich branch of Woolworths in the late 60s. It's where I got my first Coltrane and, I think, Charles Lloyd, as well as a couple of others I want to perhaps visit later. The Shepp was the CBS album titled Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five - this band featuring on Side 1; and on Side 2, it was the Bill Dixon 7-Tette, so a double album of sorts in reality.

I will have bought it because [a] it was there and inexpensive and [b] featured a saxophonist, Coltrane's CBS On West 42nd Street having planted the sax seed of interest [along with rock bands of the time, as I have commented elsewhere]. Shepp's playing was exciting to me: improvisational and dissonant and loud. I wasn't then and am still not today informed on jazz, but like what I like.

This new Shepp is wonderful. His playing is more melodic than on the '65 album, but the tenor is sharp and jagged at times. What complements this beautifully is German pianist Kühn's playing and the pair also make a full and fluent sound. Melodic lines are often played in tandem. When each solos the aural focus is immediately hooked, and when they merge again it is dynamic, as with Ornette Colman's Lonely Woman which is a favourite on this album. The pace at times is breathtaking. I also particularly like Shepp/Kühn's Nina.

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