Track Selection: “Niema”
Alan Shorter (flh) Roswell Rudd (tb) John Tchicai (as) Archie Shepp (ts) Reggie Workman (b) Charles Moffett (d) Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 10, 1964
When the headline brags a recording is “historically important”, you know you may be in for a bumpy ride. Some later Archie Shepp I have heard
smacks of “cat-strangling”, has an advanced free expression vocabulary which is not to everyone’s ear.
Vinyl: CLP 3524 UK 1st release on HMV labels
60’s mono HMV’s are reliable big-sounding full dynamic range pressings, so we get
cat-strangling advanced free expression vocabulary to satisfy the demanding audiophile, though I am less sure of the merit of Shepp’s “savagery and intensity” in high fidelity. Sort of like watching Saw IV in 3D – would you want it even more frightening, if you peep through the fingers at the gruesome bits anyway?
The cover is truly iconic. Did pipe-smoking ever look so existential? “No thanks, just tobacco in mine“. Consider what many of these musicians were sticking in their arm. Having seen the cover in various reissue guises, it’s lovely to see it in its’ true Sixties laminated incarnation, with dimpled gloss finish- a beautiful artefact.
Coltrane apparently supervised and produced the work and the fact he is pictured wearing no socks has a story attached to it.
It’s not like “historically important” stuff is going to be easy on the ear but an Ebay price of £10 GBP seems a good price for something important.