Selection:Impossible to choose one selection so I will go with two:
Prelude to a Kiss (Ellington)
Girl from Ipanema (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Vinícius de Moraes)
Ted Curson (trumpet) Joseph Orange (trombone) Marion Brown (alto saxophone) Archie Shepp (tenor saxophone) Reggie Johnson (bass) Joe Chambers (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 16, 1965
On Malcolm Malcom Semper Malcom: Archie Shepp (tenor saxophone, recitation) David Izenzon (bass) J.C. Moses (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 9, 1965
Fire Music must be one of Shepp’s most interesting albums, blistering and intense, a half-way house between Free and the Avant Garde. The musical territory ranges from the haunting recitation and requiem for Malcolm X (quick history lesson here, it is not what you might assume), to the kitsch reworking of the Girl From Ipanema, with Shepp as Webster/Hawkins reincarnated as Freddie Kreuger’s Nightmare on Elm Street, ripping into the tune at will while caressing it.
Shepp found more ways to force sound from the tenor than probably any other player, punctuating expressive breathiness with shouts, shrieks and dissonaces, sometimes choosing its own direction own irrespective of “the tune”. The septet surrounds him in rich and varied textures, full of surprises, with moments of Mingus but burning bright, angry and on fire, as befits its title, Fire Music.
Commentators often draw connections with this mid-’60s jazz and social/ political issues of the day. Personally I try to treat music as music, not necessarily “better” because of some background social injustice. Possibly controversial, but moral high ground doesn’t confer some magic fairy dust on music. Fire Music stands on its own merits.
Vinyl: US Impulse A-86
Mono, orange/black ring label with ABC Paramount attribution, Van Gelder stamp, I am guessing this would be the original release.. Glossy laminate gatefold cover bearing an Italian Import sticker.
London-based high-end Latin and Jazz online seller via Music Stack. Some of his records are approaching four figures so I was surprised to catch sight of what I was looking for and not expensive considering it is the original orange/black ring Impulse! label; VG+ with a touch of VG in places but its hard to find other than as later reissue. Ebay was replete with sellers claiming the green “tree-ring” impulse label 1975-9 as “Rare!” and “Original!” (no-one we know, if you were thinkin’).
Music Stack is a shop window for sellers who don’t want to incur Ebay fees, or possibly don’t want to play by Ebay rules (or have fallen out with them) Along with CD&LP and Discogs, it can be a shot in the dark. You get none of the comfort factor of guarantees, other buyers feedback and reputation, back-end connectivity with listings (Congratulations, you’ve bought it, now time to pay) You “buy” and in return you get an email saying the seller will contact you, and that’s it. However this seller is known, a former partner in the now defunct Intoxica record shop in Notting Hill, so I know where he lives if there is a problem – more difficult with overseas sellers. I doubt you would get far raising a tricky misrepresentation claim.
UPDATE No.1 – February 24, 2014
There would appear to be two covers in circulation, one with a white frame the other a purple frame. Contrary to my original observation about the white being associated with the second black/red ring label there seem to be about equal numbers of both on Popsike, each claiming to be “original” and all with the first orange/black ring ABC Paramount Impulse label.
So No prima facia case as to which is earlier.
UPDATE No.2 – First cover – all promo samples are purple frame
Whilst the orange ABC Paramount label is found with both purple and white covers, the promos are found only with purple frame. (I further hazard a guess that the white frame cover is found with both orange and the later black/red ring label, which would circumstantially seal its fate as a second print run).
DottorJazz, our own First Pressing Fundementalist, gets to wear the champion’s yellow jersey. All promo white label copies of Fire Music found on Popsike are purple frame, none are white, which strongly suggests that the purple frame cover is the earliest and effectively “first” original cover. It is difficult to refute the Dottorjazz hypothesis, I certainly can’t. Forensic genius.
However you could argue that the second cover sought to introduce an improved design, and I couldn’t refute that either.
Purple frame cover is the “original”. The debate is settled. For now.