Selection 1: In a Sentimental Mood (Ellington)
Selection 2: The Mac Man (Shepp) updated
Archie Shepp (ts, p) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Henry Grimes or Barre Phillips (b) David Izenzon, Rashied Ali, J.C. Moses or Joe Chambers (d) Ed Blackwell (rhythm logs) Christine Spencer (voc)
One for the Free-tendency, not outrageously avant-garde, sort of Free-Minus, within my orbit. Hutcherson keeps it cool, while Shepp plays hot, fire and ice, his own style, sometimes dangerous, sometimes lyrical (but in a mildly threatening way.)
Shepp was not well-regarded by at least one musician at the time, whose autobiography I have just finished – Miles Davis: “I think it was Tony (Williams) who brought Shepp to The Vanguard one night to sit in, and he was so awful I had to walk off the bandstand. He couldn’t play, and I wasn’t going to stand up there with this no-playing m*ther*ucker” . I liked the riposte by Cecil Taylor, also of the free tendency, returned when asked what he thought of Miles Davis playing: “Not bad, for a millionaire“.
I tend to put Shepp in the “his playing is better than it sounds” box. I ought to like him more than I do, but I’ll disagree with Miles. He can play, even if it isn’t always to my taste. And he pushes boundaries, and you don’t always know what is going to happen next. Unless you play it several times, in which case you know exactly what is going to happen next. But I do like the Ellington tribute, even if it is sometimes like torturing a fluffy kitten.
Vinyl: HMV CLP3561 UK release of Impulse! A 97
Remastered in the UK by EMI Hayes, a better listening experience than ABC Impulse own later reissues, but maybe not as strong as the US original Impulse. Some further thoughts on Impulse pressings is to be found in the Label Guide to Impulse.
Booty from an occasional sortie on North London record stores.
It’s not often I stray into London’s northern wastelands. Steady nerves are required to bluff your way through the heavily fortified border post that separates North from South London. When the guard demanded “Papers?” I nearly blew my cover by handing over a copy of the Streatham, Clapham & West Norwood Post. Luckily, he didn’t understand it as it was printed in English, a language not commonly encountered in North London. I was eventually waved through, free to plunder North London’s dwindling stocks of vinyl.
Of course venturing further north than Islington, say like Highgate or Hampstead, it is more important to look the part, blend in with the locals. To complete my disguise, I usually I carry a handful of pamphlets on revolutionary socialism. Goes down well with the rock star millionaires.
Groucho would have approved.