Archie Shepp: Goin’ Home (1977) Steeplechase

Archie-Shepp-Going-Home--front-cover-1800-LJC

Selection 1: Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child

Selection 2: Go Down Moses

Artists

Archie Shepp (tenor & soprano saxophone) Horace Parlan (piano) recorded at Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark,  April 25, 1977;  engineer  Freddy Hanson

Music:

Emotionally wrenching, this set of jazz/gospel interpretations of traditional Afro-American spiritual songs reduced Shepp to tears during the recording “due to the strain and spiritual weight of the moment”. In a Downbeat interview in 1982, Shepp recalled:

“I felt I represented everybody who’d ever sang those songs, and to make the meaning of those songs clear was up to me at that point. They should be truthful, they should have the same authenticity as when they were sung, because that’s the nature of this type of folk song. They were created by people who were in deep sorrow; they’re slave songs. And so it challenged my own ability as modern Negro black man to traverse that historical plain. Could I do that? And I felt I could, and the tears were proof of it – that perhaps my condition hadn’t changed so completely that I can’t still feel what they felt.”

Just listening is testament to the power of this recording but I was quite unprepared for  the strength of critical acclaim. A fact check found the following selected highlights (cited in full – Wiki :)

“…..Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide gave it a five-star rating, finding it particularly heartfelt. Fernando Gonzalez of The Boston Globe called it exquisite and C. Gerald Fraser of The New York Times wrote this marriage of avant-garde and soul is regarded as a classic. Art Lange of CODA magazine praised Shepp’s exquisite control of his instrument, which he quite literally makes able to talk, and found the spirituals to have been sung rather than just performed. Lange added that the emotional aspect is more impressive than the technical skill, stating the result is a truly spiritual music — one which is tender, passionate, muscular, uplifting, sensual, fiery, heartfelt, and heaven-storming all at once storming all at once…..

Allmusic editor Scott Yanow gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and found the performances compelling. He commented that listeners who are only familiar with Shepp’s earlier Fire Music will see the album as a revelation. Music author Tom Moon felt that it’s tempo-less mood  gives the themes an extra shot of majesty and found it supremely melodic….Richard Cook gave it four out of four stars…Jazz Times cited Goin’ Home as one of  the finest albums of Shepp’s career, and Tom Hull of The Village Voice cited it as SteepleChase’s best release…. Jazz historian Eric Nisenson called it one of the most moving albums of the Seventies….”

LJC-listening-test-fastshow33LJC says: Parlan’s bluesy accompaniment carrys the weight of the tunes, while Shepp takes the melodic line as voice,  plaintive in  timbre, with tonal inflections and terminating in breathy tones  interchanging between voice and instrument both one and the same. It scales the emotional heights in a commanding way, without needing to draw on any of Shepp’s high-energy vocabulary, or any saccharin sentiment, banishing forever any thoughts of Macca and The Mull of Kintyre. The sparseness of the instrumentation maintains the focus on the voice as it should, no rhythm section to hold the beat or flesh out the lower register to make it “comfortable”, it moves at its own right pace, songs without words, but gripped with raw emotion. Moving, searing. Archie Shepp. Great!

Vinyl: Steeplechase SCS 1079, stereo, 113 gm vinyl; send out for a Danish.

A fine recording and pressing by Steeplechase adds to the poignancy.

Archie-Shepp-Going-Home--labels-1800-LJC

Archie-Shepp-Going-Home-cover-1800-LJC

Collectors Corner

Source: West End record store

When I picked up this record I wasn’t looking for something this powerful. I was thinking it might be Shepp in avant-garde mode or even Shepp as with Mal Waldron, lyrical melancholy Billie Holiday songs,  and when I got it home a more detailed look what nearly sealed its fate was a glance over the song titles – Amazing Grace – visions of Paul McCartney and Wings, Mull of Kintyre…help!  Swing Low Sweet Chariot –  Johnny Cash? Beyoncé in a cocktail dress? What have I bought? The record went straight to a special section at the end of the filing system I call Death Row.

 Judge-LJCDeath Row is where I put records I think were a mistake artistically, or audio disasters: destined for disposal. There are about fifteen records there right now, I’m too embarrassed to name them. Those earmarked for disposal are however granted a temporary  stay of execution. I admit to making mistakes so my method  is fault-tolerant: tastes change, equipment changes, and once in a while they get a second hearing on appeal

I find it’s a pragmatic approach. A lot of the world is based on the principle of being right, of being certain you are right, never thinking you may be wrong. Systems intolerant of faults develop faults anyway, and fail disastrously. Things change, new information comes in, previous evidence thought right turns out to have been wrong. Death Row is a collectors fault tolerant buffer.

While auditioning a new tonearm cable (more of which in a future post) I was challenged by Man-in-a-Shed, who joined me for a listening session, to see if the new cable we (he) had just fitted could work some magic on an unloved record. Very good hifi does things like that. It’s no longer about lowering the bass floor or more treble, the lifting veils stuff, that happens anyway, it’s about delivering more emotion, music making sense, about being drawn in to listen, even to things you think you don’t like. Its part of the magic of sound quality downloaders don’t know about. I mean, why would you listen to something you don’t like? How could it ever sound different? Am I right?

Naturally I turned to Death Row, and pulled out the first record that came to hand, record which I was pretty convinced I would hate, Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan’s Going Home. Turns out to be a wonderful record. And sounds even more wonderful with the new tonearm cable.

Case dismissed, not guilty on all counts, immediate reprieve, ushers, set this record free! (Archie Shepp carried on shoulders from the court room, to cheers from the gallery)

Next case, if you please, Clerk of the Court., call  the accused Sir Paul McCartney, a popular “singer”, apparently, also known under the alias Macca.   Take the stand  Mr McCartney, umm, Macca.  You stand accused of being in possession of extremely unconvincing hair colouring – no, mine isn’t dyed, it is actually a wig. I put the question to you directly Mr McCartney, yes or no. Does the carpet match the curtains?

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21 thoughts on “Archie Shepp: Goin’ Home (1977) Steeplechase

  1. Thanks for spotlighting this LP to which I otherwise would never have given much attention. I instantly picked up a copy from Ebay as a result of this post. I can’t remember the last post-1968 jazz LP I purchased.

  2. Hello LJC- I picked up a very clean copy of this on Ebay just a few days ago. I bought it because of the comments on this blog.

    Thanks!!

    I believe myself a jazz fan, but had not given Shepp a second thought up to
    now. How shallow of me. For 2014 I will endeavor to keep my mind and ears open.

  3. I think Shepp hit something of a purple patch with these duet records in the 80s. TROUBLE IN MIND is lovely, as is LEFT ALONE REVISITED, as is TRUE BALLADS (although not a duet record), but one of my favourites (on Denon Japan, if I remember correctly) is DUET with Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim.

    Shepp is supposed to have said, “I’m worse than a romantic: I’m a sentimentalist,” and there’s something about his gruff almost kitschy handling of some of the material he plays on these duet records — and elsewhere, of course: THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA on FIRE MUSIC being a classic example — that is often thrilling. (For that matter, Duke’s PRELUDE TO A KISS on the same record has the same gruff lyricism but is played respectfully rather than — perhaps — ironically.)

    Anyway, another good choice and here’s to a similarly productive and enjoyable blogging 2014.

    • Hi Alun:

      We have a MASSIVE divergence of opinions (a collision of the galaxies, sort of), when it comes to your perception of Shepp being “almost” kitsch.

      According to multiple definitions of “kitsch”, of which Abraham Moles’ classic textbook definition (work variously translated either as “Kitsch” or “What is kitsch”, University of Strasbourg, 1971) sticks out as the most universally accepted, kitsch is:

      “…a term of German or Yiddish origin that has been used to categorize art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an existing style. The term is also used more loosely in referring to any art that is pretentious to the point of being in bad taste, and also commercially produced items that are considered trite or crass.

      Because the word was brought into use as a response to a large amount of art in the 19th century where the aesthetic of art work was associated with a sense of exaggerated sentimentality or melodrama, kitsch is most closely associated with art that is sentimental; however, it can be used to refer to any type of art that is deficient for similar reasons—whether it tries to appear sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative, kitsch is said to be a gesture imitative of the superficial appearances of art. It is often said that kitsch relies on merely repeating convention and formula, lacking the sense of creativity and originality displayed in genuine art.”

      [end quote]

      I do not see how, under any circumstances and under any artistic scrutiny, Shepp’s two Steeplechase works could be considered as or associated with “kitsch”.

      Firstly, is it INFERIOR? The question itself begs for another question: Inferior to WHAT? No, it clearly isn’t inferior, primarily because there are precious few and far between gospel- and worksong- inspired Jazz albums, so we really have a scant point of reference here (Donald Byrd’s two volumes for Blue Note: New Perspective and Trying to Get Home, Mary Lou Williams works between 1964 and 1971, some Duke Ellington sessions, Grant Green’s sole album, Sarah Vaughan’s Vatican-commissioned album, Louis Armstrong’s poppy interpretations of the Bible and perhaps a few other bits and pieces, but that’s pretty much about it). Jazz artists were more likely to draw from other cultures (Miles and Coltrane from Spain, Bud Shank from Japan, Pat Martino from India, Johnny Griffin from Ireland, Curtis Fuller and Charles Mingus from Latin America, Olatunji from Africa, etc) than from their own indigenous American aethos. More importantly, it is the selection of the material, it’s execution and the choice of the solo instrument that is making Archie Shepp’s Steeplechase material entirely unique and beyond any reference point. So let’s scratch “inferior”. You can’t be inferior when you are essentially one-of-a-kind.

      Secondly: is it “SENTIMENTALLY EXAGGERATED” or “OVERLY MELODRAMATIC”? The answer is fast and furious: HELL, NO!. Emotional, yes, Dramatic, yes, infused with deep feeling: absolutely!. But it is PRECISELY Shepp’s restraint, emotional balance, expressive scarcity, delicate and thoughtful renditions and incredible sense of tact and proportion that is keeping this material from becoming tacky, tiresome or cringe-inducing. The man knows exactly where to stop, which is more than 99% of his peers can boast of. In some ways, he reminds me of David Newman’s solo on Ray Charles’ “Lonely Avenue”: It is 20 seconds of fierce UNDERSTATEMENT during which the listener simply begs and pleads and grovels for more, more, more (and never gets it). Shepp’s Steeplechase material has the same effect on this listener. It really is a wonderful example of less-is-more aesthetics at work.

      But more importantly: do bear in mind that biblical, religious and worksong material typically lacks the sense of melodrama..You will not find elements of Viennese operettas and Opera Buffa in gospel, perhaps because Bible itself is more than dramatic itself (an understatement if I ever made one) . Die Fledermaus and Protestant psalms simply do not go well together, and they mix like sodium and water (this may have something to do with that minor divorce quarrel Henry VIII had with the Pope some 500 years or so, give or take). In short, puritan ethic and spartan way of life of the African slave population in America simply weren’t conducive to “sentimentally exaggerated” material. How can you be sentimental, when you are carrying 100-pound bales of cotton in a scorching sun and under the whip of your owner all day? Personally, I have no idea how one can make a worksong “sentimentally exaggerated”, short of Barbra Streisand recording a gospel album, which I suspect that- to my infinite joy and elation – I am not going to see in my lifetime.

      Thirdly, is it a COPY of the existing style? Obviously not. As I noted in my first point, there has never been an established Gospel-Jazz (or Jazz-Gospel) style or subgenre. The two HAVE influenced one another over the decades (but largely on the margins of each other), and fragments of each have found their way into the other, but there was never anything like an ESTABLISHED Jazz-Gospel “current” in Jazz, although the fans of ‘Spritual Jazz” will probably disagree with my assessment. By and large, Jazz was born and raised as an antidote, a secular reaction to the suffocating and overly Victorian moral and religious constraints: it only became a metaphysically self-conscious and politically aware force decades later: in it’s original incarnation: Jazz was music to get drunk and f*** by (as was Blues or Rockabilly or Hip-Hop), by the way). In short: the dominant secular vein of Jazz inherently runs against the grain of everything and anything Gospel stands for. The two are a decidedly strange and incongruent mix, which may help explain the relative scarcity of the gospel-influenced Jazz sessions. So, no, Mr. Shepp is no copy. Let’s scratch “copy of the existing style”, too.

      Fourthly: is it ” gesture imitative of the superficial appearances of art” (in short, is it derivative). Obviously, this is a reiteration of the previous question (is it a copy?), but with the added element of superfluity. There is nothing superficial about Shepp’s treatment of gospel material. it is clearly a deep, heartfelt expression of the man’s sorrows stemming from the centuries of his race being treated like animals (or worse). But my words may lack persuasiveness; after all, I am white who never had a “privilege” of being accorded such a humane and charitable treatment from the early American capitalism (I only experienced the humanism of the latter-day capitalism): the final proof is actually in the pudding: if this music does not deeply affect you, you should DEFINITELY check your pulse. It should appeal – profoundly, not superficially – to every human being with ears (and some functional matter therebetween)

      And (I promise) finally: does Shepp’s album “repeat convention and formulas, lacks the sense of creativity and originality displayed in genuine art.”

      I think the first part of the question has already been answered: there was no repetition of formulas here, because (at least when it comes to tenor sax), the man wrote the book and invented and patented the formula. Is it lacking the “sense of creativity displayed in genuine art”. Obviously, the work is creative and ingenious enough that precious few specimens of it’s kind exist.

      Is it “genuine”? I dunno. To those who display rusty disfigured chunks or iron on Park Avenue, painted cows on the streets of Manhattan, gigantic molten wax candles in front of NY City Hall or 5-floors high screwdrivers in front of government buildings and call these crass, abhorrent exhibits “modern art” , Archie Shepp may not be “genuine art” enough. To the rest of us, the sane humankind, he is probably every bit as genuine as Michaelangelo, Kafka or Picasso.

      So, yes. We have no bananas. If Archie Shepp is kitsch, then Miley Cyrus must be a Nobel Laureate in literature.

      Don’t worry — I didn’t misunderstand your comment. I did take note of the “almost kitschy” qualifier. Where I do disagree is that it is not kitschy even minimally — almost OR otherwise.

      • Phew! I enjoyed the ride on that post.

        This is one of a number of records I have that brings tears to the eyes. It can not be through identification with “slavery” since that isn’t my legacy. I think there is raw emotion here, to which anyone can connect, whatever their heritage.

        • Andy, I think two weeks worth of intensive treatment in Papa Reagan’s trickle-down (sic) paradise resort would forever cure you of your inability to relate to the plight of the slaves (and/or their descendants). Compared to Milton Friedman & his neoloberal banker friends, Margaret Thatcher’s capitalist entrepreneurial nirvana looks like ultimate socialist Utopia dreamed up by Mao himself. I am glad, though, that I am far from being alone in appreciating the emotional content of Shepp’s work.

      • OK, Bob — persuasively argued. I should probably have said something like “material which in other hands might have been merely kitschy is given an intense, visceral reading, imbued with Shepp’s gruff, sometimes angry lyricism and (to quote LJC’s useful formula) raw emotion…”

        Another aspect of what I was *trying* to convey is that I do admire the ability to skate perilously close to kitsch (or perhaps merely to cliche) while entirely avoiding it and springing surprise after surprise. Shepp did it and (albeit in a quite different context) Sonny Clark could do it while turning on a dime, dropping arch fragments (nursery rhymes, old chestnuts) into his solos that flash past so quickly one wonders whether one ever heard them in the first place — listen to his solo on SOMETHIN’ SPECIAL on Leapin’ and Lopin’.

        I defy anyone to identify a place one could go to on the 2nd of January 2014 — in the depths of another neoliberal winter, the working year cranking bitterly back into gear — for such stimulating discussion of jazz and beyond…

        • Hi Alun:

          Many thanks for your gracious response; perhaps I overreacted a bit to a minor verbal faux pas on your part; alas, Slavic population tends to be overly hypersensitive (if not, like Shepp, too darn sentimental and/or (melo)dramatic, which renders us uniquely capable of identifying TRUE kitsch :-)).

          I think our biggest disagreement (still, probably a minor one) is this: where does the expressed sentiment transcend good taste and morph into a particularly bad form, a tedious saccharine-laced melodrama?.

          It would take many times amount of this space to answer this question, and since I overstayed my welcome on this thread by a cosmic margin, I will selflessly refrain. Personally, I think that the answer is largely individual and varies from person to person. I doubt that there are permanent artistic standards cast in stone unto all eternity. Look, back in 1963, Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe was kitsch incarnate. a dreadful example of everything that ever could have gone terribly, terribly wrong. Half a century later, it is an exhibit A of good taste (well, maybe not quite) and a wonderful specimen of modern art. Time, regrettably or not, reshapes all things. Perhaps back in 1978, Shepp could have been considered a retrogressive sentimentalist bordering on kitsch. 36 years later, his two Steeplechase albums are nothing short of all-time Jazz classics, every bit as classic as sweet and sentimental recordings by Ben Webster, Ike Quebec or Lester Young. Actually, I would argue, even more so.

          But, in a larger sense, I find that true Jazz (and Shepp is certainly as fine a representative of the genre as anyone) is almost impossible to become unbearably melodramatic. There is something intrinsically good tasteish and proportionate, well measured about Jazz, a built-in mechanism, sort of, which prevents true Jazz from slipping into the sliding zone of tasteless pathos and artistic hysteria. Even the Jazz covers of Broadway and vaudeville acts, such as Chet Baker’s remaking of ‘My Fair Lady’ or Kenny Drew’s ‘Pal Joey’ tend to bestow a dose of credibility on otherwise abhorrent material. (I have a confession to make: Nat King Cole’s ‘My Fair Lady’ is actually my favorite NKC album. I am repenting and self-flagellating as we speak. Ouch!)

          To me, close to 100% of Jazz falls well outside of the kitsch zone. If anything, Jazz tends to err in the opposite direction, by becoming too esoteric, hermetic and extreme. I can’t for the life of me, think of anything even remotely resembling Barry Manilow or Liberace in all of Jazz, although, yes, Kenny G and David Sanborn and the like come perilously close. In fact. they ARE kitsch — and the only reason why they are kitsch is that they have ceased being Jazz long, long time ago.

          Neoliberal years ONLY have one season: winter. The Big Brother is too financially exhausted subsidizing big bankers to be able to fiscally afford the remaining three seasons. It is one big happy ice age in the Age of Merkeltilism! Global warming? What global warming?

          Happy and Jazzy New Year!

          Bob

          • Bob, I think you just opened an entirely different and possibly much larger can of worms!

            While “true Jazz” as you say has a “built-in mechanism” which prevents it from slipping into “tasteless pathos and artistic hysteria”, the music *can* in certain circumstances become “too esoteric, hermetic and extreme”. It would be extremely interesting if you could give an example of something that you feel falls into this latter category. (I have some nominations but I’ll reserve them for fear of starting a jazz war so early in the year….)

            Is such a formulation only really saying “this jazz [name your poison] has become too esoteric, hermetic and extreme because (a) it has ceased to be true jazz and (b) I don’t like it? It begs a big question: what is “true jazz”? And why?

            • Hi Alun:

              You are right. We are opening an entirely brand new can of worms here, and i would definitely prefer to keep it shut at all times, or at least keep a very tight lid on it.

              Mind you, I wasn’t making a value judgment. I merely said that, when Jazz strays from its archetypal form (say: a good, solid, Hard Bop), it is more likely to slip in the direction of hermeticism than kitcschy melodrama (I consider these two values to be the opposite ends of the artistic continuum).

              Myself, I have nothing against esoterica in Jazz (for instance, you can read my raving review of Coltrane’s ‘Ascension’ on a different LJC thread), but sometimes Avant-Garde tends to get too Avant to be consumed in a single sitting, and sometimes it gets downright injurious to your senses (both receptive and cerebral (Think Ayler, Lace, Braxton, most outside-the-mainstream modern Jazz, etc).

              Does this mean that such music is devoid of artistic merit? Absolutely not (and, in any event, who am I to say?). Au contraire! But it does mean that you can’t drive by it, sleep in it, make love to it or otherwise use it as a soundtrack of your life – something that music, by definition, is. Ultimately, Stan Getz was right: ear is the ultimate judge of the music’s validity, creativity and viability. Brain only stands in the way.

              .

  4. Please, try to listen to Archie Shepp & Horace Parlan “Trouble In Mind”, also on the SteepleChase label, I believe it’s a superior record…

    • Thanks for the recommendation – I managed to find a copy of “Trouble in Mind” a couple of days ago, located in snowy Vienna. It is on its way, on past form it’ll be a week in transit. I’ll post on it.

  5. @ Kev and Bob: wanna have a listen to a spiritual album that’s a real crap?
    and it’s one of my preferred Free musicians too, Ayler.
    try this: Swing Low, Sweet Spiritual, Osmosis 4001, rec. 1964, 40 days after Spirits, Debut 146.
    as I said before, not everything is gold in Free and this Ayler ain’t.
    together with Ayler’s first two recordings on Swedish Bird Notes, anyone can be pretty sure this man could NOT play. Until he discovered a completely new way in Free Jazz where he was able to express himself at his best.
    Shepp is different: after almost anonymous beginnings with Taylor in 1960, in three years he settled his voice as one of the major tenors on scene. True that he found his way in Free but, as Andrew’s older post demonstrates, he knew and practised the older tradition: Frog was his master. Please go back to In a Sentimental Mood, on different albums. With his “new” voice he could really play. Shepp went back to Jazz tradition after 1970, after Free season had come to an end. Ayler tried to change his way at the same time, following another path but he could not play before as he could not play after.
    Anyway he remains, for me, one of the main innovators in 60’s Jazz.
    Just need to cut his beginning and his end.
    In medium veritas.

    • Well, I beg to differ, honourable Dottore. I think Ayler handles the spirituals very well on the Osmosis LP (reissued as a Black Lion cd titled “Goin’ Home”). I must say I don’t hear anything in this session that could give credence to the oft-repeated claim that he couldn’t play.

      Regarding the Swedish recordings, I agree that they aren’t as focused, so I won’t try to convince you otherwise.

      However, his very first session, recorded in Helsinki and issued in the big Revenant box, is something else! The way he tackles the blues changes of “Sonnymoon For Two” is fascinating, and it’s obvious (to my ears at least) that his, at times outrageous, note choices aren’t the result of a lack of musical training but a clear sign of his desire to move beyond bebop harmony.

      The presence of two undersung Finnish talents, Teuvo Suojärvi and Herbert Katz, on piano and guitar respectively, is a nice bonus.

      So – give it a listen if you have the chance!

      • thanks Freddie, I have that box but I must confess I never listened to. My personal sad motto is: I ask time to Time and he replies: sorry, I haven’t got. I think I have so much music I’ll need a couple of lives to listen to everything. I gave that Ayler away many years ago but I did try to let me like it with multiple listenings, what I usually do when I don’t like a record, I wanna be sure I do not really like it in any way. being Ayler one of my favorite musicians I tried for years but I couldn’t make it. if I’m not wrong I have a digital copy in my office and will give a listen one more time. thanks for your opinion, I really hope to have been wrong.

  6. LJC, good to hear you are making solid progress on Archie Shepp’s music, one of my favorite Saxophone players. Shepp lives part time in Paris and plays a lot with a variety of musicians, some french .
    There are may vinyls available on french/italian labels where he plays with the late great pianist Siegfried Kessler., such as the Paris concerts . see : http://www.siegfriedkessler.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=65&lang=en
    We had the great pleasure to host Archie Shepp during some Jazz à Junas festivals, a great, aimable and culturally well educated person.

  7. Parlan and Shepp recorded a companion session, Trouble in Mind, in 1980 which was also released on Steeplechase and is also worth seeking out. I consider both as precursors to Steal Away, the Charlie Haden / Hank Jones session of spirituals. That is a CD worthy of sitting among my finest jazz vinyl.

  8. It is really interesting that you are taking a look at a record from the late 70’s that revisits traditional and spiritual tunes from the Black American tradition. Few artists ventured explicitly into that territory (Grant Green, and Yusef Lateef (RIP) particularly with his superb The Blue Yusef Lateef, being amongst the creditable exceptions).
    As ever LJC, you are willing to venture far and wide to bring us a great read and interesting information. My compliments of the season. Onwards to 2014

  9. Thanks to you LJC, I’ve recently got into Shepp, both early and later periods. Attica Blues (1971) is a current favourite. I don’t know and I don’t care whether it’s jazz, Ballad of A Child is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard.

  10. Another fine entry, Andy. I am almost getting to be entirely unsurprised by the consistent quality of your selections. You should, for once, pick a real dud, a horribly botched session or a major Jazz monstrosity just for the sake of sheer shock value and element of surprise. (may I suggest some David Sanborn and/or Kenny G.?)

    Going Home is easily, hands-down, the finest album of Archie Shepp’s long and luminous career (which includes such masterworks as Fire Music and Attica Blues, inter alia): a work of self-conscious, but never overbearing or narcissistic, African-American who just happens to be the elder statesman of Jazz: a fine, ripe, mature work which is equally well conceived, produced, emoted, played and recorded. In fact, if you are new to Archie Shepp (which precious few of you on this thread should be), do NOT start acquainting yourself with his oeuvre from his formative Impulse years. Start RIGHT HERE, and then work your way backward. In fact, I will toss in a highly heretical thought: if you must have ONE entry by Shepp in your collection, keep this one and lose your Impulses. Nothing else needs to be said. Kudos to the Giant.

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