Archie Shepp: The Magic of Ju-Ju (1967) Impulse!

An outing to a place not often on the LJC jazz itinerary,” free jazz/  high energy genre”, and  nominations for The Ten Best Covers of a Jazz Record. (UPDATE: see reader nominations at end of post)


Selection: Sorry ’bout that (Shepp)

The title track, occupying as it does 18 minutes – one side, I selected instead a half length track, which basically covers the same musical terrain: catharsis.


Martin Banks (trumpet, flugelhorn) Mike Zwerin (bass trombone, trombone) Archie Shepp (tenor saxophone) Reggie Workman (bass) Norman Connors, Beaver Harris (drums) Frank Charles (talking drum) Dennis Charles (percussion) Ed Blackwell (rhythm logs) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 26, 1967


1967Synchronise watches, it is 1967 precisely. Freejazz, the mutant child of Post-bop, has abandoned the cool aesthetic of angular melodies and shimmering space, and replaced it with chaos and anger, in a raging fiery act of spiritual exorcism.

An emerging tune of a funky ambience is ambushed almost immediately by a howling banshee that plunges deep into the bell of Shepp’s tenor and won’t come out, growling shrieking, spewing out notes with seemingly endless energy and fury, a horn possessed. The structure, a hypnotic afro- rhythmic canvas over which the outpouring is sustained, grinding chainsaw distortion, as Shepp’s demons dance to their own maniacal tune, without resolution until after eighteen minutes of non-stop tireless screaming, they are finally spent, and creep away, allowing the tune to stagger, exhausted, to its close.

The selected title “Sorry ‘Bout That” borrows from ’60s GI slang in Vietnam, where it gained currency as a “faux-apology” to the casualties of lethal military force, innocent or guilty. What Shepp meant by it remains for speculation, but it is a phrase of its time.

The Magic of Ju-Ju is Shepp’s most uncompromising album, free jazz, love it or hate it. With one foot already in the avant-garde, from here on Shepp veered between black music back to Africa, the blues, and the contemporary R&B sounds, stopping off to the black heritage of gospel with Horace Parlan, mixing styles with gospel singers, big bands, quintets, sextets, and chamber orchestras, always provocative, original, compelling, from an uncompromising personal vision, one of the great men of jazz still standing.

Vinyl: Impulse AS-9154

1st black label/ red rim Impulse! label – Stereo – LW etching -( Longwear Plating Company) – but no RVG, despite being recorded at Englewood Cliffs .As best I recall there is no RVG on a number of Shepp records around this time. Rudy engineered but did not master – seems an odd decision, perhaps he didn’t want his mark on it for some reason.

Aside from the arresting flower-power skull image, the cover  owes a lot of it’s power to the warped text in contrasting colours, and the laminated pure black thick card cover. It is a thing of physical beauty, 12×12″, no facsimile modern plastic cover or jewel case insert could ever match its tactile presence.

Archie-Shepp-Magic-of-JuJu-labels-2000-LJCGatefold: Shepp with hat.



Collector’s Corner

Mike Zwerin Paris Jazz ChroniclesA while back, I picked up a semi-autobiographical book The Parisian Jazz Chronicles,written in Jack Kerouac beat mode, by Paris-resident expatriate American Mike Zwerin. For over twenty years Zwerin wrote a regular jazz column for the International Herald Tribune.

The same Mike Zwerin who coincidentally played trombone on Archie Shepp’s Magic of Ju-Ju.


However this was but the first of a number of coincidences.

Sitting on my first Ryanair flight, bound for South East Poland, I pulled the Zwerin book from my hand-ryanair200]luggage and whiled away the flight, the book being more interesting than the view from the window of German windfarms below. I turned the pages, enjoying his encounters with jazz musicians, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, and their drugs, rock and roll lifestyle, including Mike’s drug-injesting roommate, Squirms:

“…Squirms finished throwing up in the toilet and emerged groaning, “I’m sick and tired of waking up tired and sick.” Now here was a hero, my roomie, Squirms. His definition of a square was someone who didn’t like throwing up. A funky road rat with bleary eyes and a green complexion testifying to a dedicated pursuit of happiness, Squirms was laying low from the day. Daytime was not his friend..”

I thought a line I must remember: a square was someone who didn’t like throwing up. Then turning a page on the ’80s music scene in France, I stumbled mid-paragraph, struck by a bolt of lightening.

…The premier French rock band of the day, Téléphone, had an English stage and tour crew . “English roadies work twice as hard as the French and cost half as much“, said tour manager David Wernham…”

The lightening bolt? David Wernham. My good friend Dave Wernham played bass and vocals to my lead guitar in a ropey R&B band, for seven years, the later half of the ’60s and early ’70s. We later went our separate ways, Dave on to a full-time career in music tour management, me in business management, and our paths never crossed again, in over four decades. Until a Ryanair flight and a book by a trombonist with Archie Shepp, whose  LP I would  buy some weeks later, unaware of the connection. Now, it all made a sort of sense, but for one small and potentially significant detail. Why Ryanair?

More from the excellent jazz writer Mike Zwerin (excerpt here) The Square on the Lawn, by Michael Zwerin. Recommended reading.

LJC-Michael-Caine- Professor Jazz fastshow30Oh yes, before I forget:

The Ten Best Jazz Record Covers. Your nominations, any number ten max, the floor is yours. We will see if there is any consensus. My 1st vote already in, The Magic of Ju Ju.

I’ll wait and see what else is nominated before casting my remaining nine. It’s called Leading From Behind. My American friends may recognise the management style.



Remember – whatever the arguments over bit-sampling rates and firing engineers, the guaranteed win is covers. Ask an I-tunes downloader for the cover, umm…there isn’t one. Vinyl wins every time. Art is on our side.

Here are some of the early nominations from readers (each tableaux can be viewed full screen at 1920 pixels wide)

  1. Here’s Dottorjazz selection (minus Billie – I can only get 9 in a tableaux). Interesting choices, eclectic taste, I didn’t know some of these. The Sonny Criss is great – so retro, as is the Teddy Charles. But McLean on Ad Lib , how beautiful.


2. DGmono‘s top picks  (omitted 1 for symmetry) Also very interesting choices. The Wallington is another I have never seen, has a period charm, the Hancock is a strong contender, dark and brooding like the music. Reid Miles on points.

3. André Steenbergen, new poster I think, hi!. All good, few surprises. The Monk in Italy is a treat – double image piano keys reflection, neat execution. And  Sonny plays the joker.

4. P.Cocke shows off his “top shelf” covers, some familiar favourites and a few surprises. Good choice, the Sun Ra.

Top-Covers-PCocke5. Woody’s selection. Surgeon General’s warning, its enough to get you to take up smoking, superb choices (cough cough, will someone please open a window?) The Stitt is magnificent, I’ve never seen it in the flesh, would never forget it. The Dex too. That Jazz Eyes on Regent, another rare bird, great. Curved ball! – a 10″” Mobley… This is more fun than I at first thought…


6. Rudolph shows his hand, interesting choices, all  moody musician portraits, the player is the thing, everyone looks so serious, and you have got to love that Miles.


7. Joel throws in his choices, very varied. Brilliant Brilliant Corners, iconic Money Jungle three and Cool being born .That Randy Weston is a wild card, but nice.Hopefully that’s the correct Stan Getz cover. Nice.



8.Blink and Bink Figgins is in with his chosen ones. The Basie in Paris is a real charmer. Mingus offers our first pipe-smoke cover and a double nomination for Fonkiest Hat on a Record Sleeve category, while Bitches Brew determinedly signaled the new decade of the ’70s. Great stuff.


9. Skunkride  classic choices.  I especially like the Sam Rivers fisheye, a gritty player in a gritty urban setting, no fuchsias in sight. The Hutcherson updates the fifties  girlie cover, now swinging sixties, and that definitely looks fuschia.


10. Sweep up -assorted individual mentions – Attica Blues gets a noble mention, a great ripsnorting album from Shepp, and the second pipes-smoking entry, Four for Trane.


I’ll come out with my personal favourites – when I have figured out what they are. Clock ticking down to Christmas…


POLL NOW ADDED to next Post (23rd Dececember) , so you can vote for your favourites



44 thoughts on “Archie Shepp: The Magic of Ju-Ju (1967) Impulse!

  1. Whoa! That Magic of Juju track is fantastic! I’ll be seeing Archie later this month and this number has got me in the mood for sure.

  2. Some terrific covers already mentioned and I’m not sure that adding my own text-only list is going to add all that much to the party — and in any case, my favourites change on an almost daily basis according to mood… And on top of that, some of my favourite more recent covers are CD covers!

    But talking of Shepp I must admit to not being all that partial to Juju (sleeve or contents) but I think the cover of FOUR FOR TRANE, with Archie and John sitting on the steps to RVG’s studio, Sheep smoking a pipe, is marvellous.

    • alun: I am in the same position, my choices change continuously, depending on my state of mind.
      I am surprised to note that the magnificent Esmond Edwards is so under-represented (only Prestige 7105 and 7166, if I am correct). He did some extraordinary coloured blocks designs with a portrait of the artist. The prime example is Soultrane on Prestige. Others in the same vein: Mal/3 and Mal/4, two Waldron albums on New Jazz and Cattin’ Trane/Quinichette, 7158 and Cobb 7165, both on Prestige.
      E.E. would soon leave Prestige to become A& R director for Argo.

      • Rudolf, A good point about Esmond Edwards. Superb work. Googling this stuff led me to Phil Hays (Miles’s COOKIN’, for instance) and made me realise that he too is a wonderful multi-purpose illustrator and much undervalued too…

        • I know Phil Hays only from COOKIN’, never noticed anything else. I will Google for more. The COOKIN’ design was one of the few which Esquire directly took over from Prestige. Tom Hannan’s Rollins + 4 is another one. We are in the big league here.

          • I’ve just looked again and found plenty of other kind of work by Hays but no more record covers. I had mistakenly assumed that Lou Donaldson: Quartet Quintet Sextet (BN 1537) was also by him but of course it isn’t — it’s a Reid Miles drawing, and also a very fine cover.

            But last night I was rethinking this favourite covers idea completely, and came to the conclusion that some covers are great because of their superlative graphic design, some are great because of their iconic photography, and some are great because they hold a special place in our hearts (or our lives or our personal histories) — and this last category may be ‘great’ despite the fact that the artwork maybe less than superlative. Into this category I would put Miles’ and Gil’s Sketches of Spain. The artwork really isn’t great but it is such an iconic and evocative sleeve and goes back to the very earliest beginnings of my own listening history….

  3. ‘Mo’ Greens Please’ is perfect!
    Nightdreamer (Shorter) and Like Someone in Love (Blakey) are just lovely…

    and we can not ignore Search for the New Land. Morgan’s eyes say so much about his pain and sorrow in his life at that time.

  4. Shepp’s Attica Blues is high on my all time favorite albums list. Not exactly a traditional jazz album as it strays into funk, gospel, soul & what not…fascinating listening all the same.

    Regarding the covers, i did try hard not to just pick 10 Blue Note covers but after going through my whole collection & trimming down my 20+ selections (wasn’t an easy job) i got left with mostly Blue Notes…oh well, can’t fight it :

    tina brooks – true blue

    donald byrd – a new perspective

    miles davis – workin

    jutta hipp with zoot simms

    bobby hutcherson – happenings

    jackie mclean – right now

    lee morgan sextet – bn 1541

    sam rivers – fuchsia swing song

    george wallington – jazz for the carriage trade

    wheelin & dealin – prestige 7131

    Now just waiting for the top ten ugliest jazz covers poll – got a lot to choose from !

    • Sadly, there is only one “winner” of the ugliest cover contest: Art Pepper – Chile Pepper on Charlie Parker Records (a reissue of the Marty Paich Quartet LP). Houseflies on a bowl of stale chili! What that has to do with jazz (in general), much less such a lovely record (more specifically), is beyond me. Truly bizarre.

  5. A lot of my favourites have already been mentioned, so here’s ten that I don’t think have come up yet:

    Horace Parlan – Happy Frame of Mind (Blue Note)
    Oscar Pettiford – Volume 2 (Bethlehem)
    Donald Byrd – Free Form (Blue Note)
    Sam Jones – The Soul Society (Riverside)
    Curtis Amy – Katanga (Pacific Jazz)
    Grant Green – Feelin’ the Spirit (Blue Note)
    Miles Davis Quintet – Cookin’ (Prestige)
    Max Roach – Deeds Not Words (Riverside)
    Graham Collier Septet – Deep Dark Blue Centre (Deram)
    Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Shades of Blue (Columbia UK)

    I tried to break out of being US-centric towards the end. Of course, ask me tomorrow and you’ll probably get a different ten!

  6. You have it reversed. Post-bop is the mutant child of free jazz. Ornette and Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra were going strong, and explicitly called free jazz, before and post-bop was played, much less named as such.

    Which raises an interesting question. What was the first post-bop album? And when was the term first applied? I guess if I hung out on Organissimo I’d see things like this discussed all the time.

    • I prefer the way I wrote it, It’s creative writing, not a music history textbook. And this isn’t Organissimo, God forbid, but we could have a discussion.

      Personally I think it’s unhelpful to label Cecil Taylor as “Free Jazz” – he is Cecil Taylor – in a category all his own: uncategorisable. Sun Ra likewise, or if anything, New Black Mysticism. Though Cecil may sound “free” Taylor planned everything meticulously, so it fails the Free test, of spontaneous improvisation

      Ornette early I would call New Thing, He did produce an album called “Free Jazz” in 1961 whose name and endeavour certainly fits the bill, so an overlap. Late Impulse!, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler, end-stage Coltrane came much later and I prefer the term “Spiritual” to “Free”, or even “High Energy” music.: a different musical vocabulary. May be Shepp 1967 fits better under that cap than Free.

      Though there were antecedents through 50’s and 60’s, Free Jazz to my mind better describes the body of works found later towards the Loft Era.- Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, John Stevens, some Steve Lacy – “Free Improvisation”., which is not stuff I listen to, so I know nothing.

      “Post bop” is a loose stylistic term and I guess includes both post-bop and modal jazz. I use it to describe the last two halcyon years of Blue Note, and the new direction set by Miles 2nd Quintet, 1964-8, though there were practitioners of bop around much longer.

      All of these are just loose-fitting labels, with some cultural and explanatory power, but it all depends what you want them for. Having a discussion is one use.

      These are just my opinions, no doubt there are others.

    • I’m not very familiar with what I’d call ‘free jazz’ beyond what I’ve heard and consequently didn’t like. As for post bop, we had a small discussion about it in the LJC forum a while back, and I personally find post bop somewhat difficult to define. I’d say post bop is somewhere in ‘between’ (stylistically, not necessarily chronologically) hard bop and free jazz. I suppose I’d put early-mid-60s-ish Miles (along with Herbie, Shorter, Carter, and Williams), Andrew Hill (early), MyCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Joe Henderson in this category. I’d suspect that Jackie McLean belongs too. For me the level of experimentation and breaking away from bop idioms informs my ‘definition’ of post bop. For drummers, for example, I think that’s where Jones and Williams broke away from the solid ride pattern in bop a la Blakey etc. but didn’t melt into free’s full-blown ‘chaos’ or as LJC described it, pure spontaneity in improvisation.

  7. Your comment about the cover of Empyrean Isles complimenting the music (which I totally agree with) made me think, LJC. To continue with my Reid Miles obsession, the story explains that he actually wasn’t a jazz fan, and that he pawned the free copies of Blue Notes he received for rock or classical records or some other genre. But I wonder if he even listened to the music at all when designing covers…?? Quite often, I find that his choices work…might have had to do with Wolff and perhaps Lion pointing him in some sort of a direction??

    • Red Miles may not have been a jazz fan but like any professional graphic designer, I guess he knew and worked to his brief. The emphasis on typography, balance of design elements and generous use of open space could be applied to any kind of music, but for Blue Note it looks far from random. With 1500 series and Francis Wolff’s photography he often had a ready-made starting point, but with the post-bop/ modal stuff he had something of a blank canvas. He must have had some understanding of the mood of the music, even is it wasn’t to his taste.

  8. I’m slow on the draw, so many of my favorites are already covered – Magnificent Thad Jones (no. 1 best ever, hands down); Saxophone Colossus; Blue Train; Dexter Blows Hot and Cool; Undercurrent.

    Here are 10 more not yet mentioned:

    Money Jungle
    Stan Getz Plays (Norgran)
    Brilliant Corners
    Randy Weston – African Cookbook
    Gene Shaw – Breakthrough
    Baby Face Willette – Behind the 8 Ball
    The Stylings of Silver
    Max Roach – Max
    Oscar Peterson Plays Porgy and Bess
    Birth of the Cool

  9. Thinking off the top – my favorite LP artwork. Surely I’m forgetting some obvious ones…

    Larry Young – Unity
    Count Basie – April In Paris
    Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue
    Andrew Hill – Judgement!
    Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Big Beat
    Bud Powell – The Scene Changes
    Miles Davis – Porgy & Bess
    Eric Dolphy – At The Five Spot
    Miles Davis – Bitches Brew
    Charles Mingus – Black Saint & The Sinner Lady

  10. I like the atmosphere in the studios, portraits and a lot more. Way out West is already featured, so here you are for another ten:

    Arranged by Montrose (Pacific Jazz 1214)
    The Quintets Lennie Niehaus Contemporary 3518
    On Stage Bill Perkins Pacific Jazz 1221
    Coltrane Prestige 7105
    Miles Davis Quintet Dutch Philips B 07198 L
    Mobley BLP 1568
    Blowing in from Chicago BLP 1549
    Rollins BLP 1558
    Cecil Taylor Contemporary 3562
    Curtis Counce Contemporary 3526:

      • Re: Lennie Niehaus
        Music-wise, I prefer the 8 original piano-less tracks found on 10-inch Cont. 2513. The cover there is similar, but without Bob Gordon.

        • I hesitated between the 10″ and 12″ versions and decided for the 12″ because of Bob Gordon. The close up on the 10″ version may be the better one though.
          I fully agree, the eight original piano-less tracks are of an even higher standard than the later four (with brass and piano). I love this 10″ album, Lennie’s first. The U.K. Vogue issue is regularly on EBay.
          I have two US versions, one with DG labels and one non-DG, with a circle mark around the spindle hole.

  11. Sonny Stitt – Plays – (Royal Roost)
    Dexter Gordon – Blows Hot and Cool (Dootone)
    Elvin Jones Richard Davis- Heavy Sounds (Impulse)
    Bobby Timmons – Born to be Blue (Riverside)
    Phil Woods Donald Byrd – The Young Bloods (Prestige)
    Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus (Prestige)
    John Jenkins Donald Byrd – Jazz Eyes (Regent)
    Thad Jones – The Magnificent (Blue Note)
    Hank Mobley – BLP 5066 (Blue Note)

    I’ve always had a weakness for cigarette smoke on a Jazz cover. The evolution of jazz in the mid 50’s in NYC was before my time but I envision late night improvisation sessions in smokey nightclubs that gave birth to what we call Hard Bop.

    • I’m nostalgic about cigarettes and the smoke and how it was so commonplace back then (albeit in a guilty sort of way). The Heavy Sounds cover is killer; I also like Curtis Fuller’s The Opener, John Patton’s The Way I Feel, and George Wallington Showcase.

  12. Not a simple question to answer. But here we go…

    Kenny Burrell – Blue Lights (Blue Note)
    John Coltrane – Blue Trane (Blue Note)
    Bill Evans/Jim Hall – Undercurrent (United Artists)
    Monk – Misterioso (Riverside)
    Leon Thomas – Blues and the Soulful Truth (Flying Dutchman)
    Sun Ra – Space is the Place (Impulse)
    Curtis Counce – You Get More Bounce (Contempory)
    Terje Rypdal – Waves (ECM)
    Sonny Rollins – Way Out West (Riverside)
    Vienna Art Orchestra – The Minimalism of Erik Satie (hat ART)

  13. John Coltrane – Lush Life (Prestige)
    Mal Waldron – The Quest (New Jazz / Xtra)
    Thelonious Monk – In Italy (Riverside)
    Charles Mingus Quintet – plus Max Roach (Fantasy)
    Sonny Rollins – Way Out West (Riverside)
    John Coltrane – Blue Train (Blue Note)
    Booker Ervin – That’s It (Candid)
    Grachan Moncur – Evolution (Blue Note)
    Kenny Dorham – Matador (United Artists)
    Jackie Mclean – Destination Out (Blue Note)

    Just a list of some cool covers. And there are many more, but in terms of the music these albums belong in my musical jazz top ten as well (and that counts too)…..

    Regards, André

  14. Bill Evans: Undercurrent (United Artists)
    Max Roach: Freedom now suite (Candid)
    Teddy Charles: Vibrant (Elektra)
    Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (Atlantic)
    John Coltrane: Blue Train (Blue Note)
    Sonny Criss: Go-man! (Imperial)
    Jackie McLean: The new tradition (Ad lib)
    Eric Dolphy: Outward bound/Out there (New Jazz)
    Billie Holiday: Ladylove (United Artists)
    Nucleus: Elastic rock (Vertigo)

    • Re: Undercurrent
      I never owned the LP version, so before I first got hold of a CD version about twelve years ago, I had always thought of the back cover being the actual cover art. I did not know about the Ophelia photo before that because it may not have been used in advertising the record. That’s why I still think of the back cover as one of my favourite LP covers.

  15. Teddy Charles, Coolin’ (New Jazz)
    Duke Pearson, Tender Feelin’s (Blue Note)
    Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds (Blue Note)
    Horace Parlan, Us Three (Blue Note)
    George Wallington Quintet at the Bohemia (Progressive)
    Andrew Hill, Black Fire (Blue Note)
    Kenny Dorham, Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia (Blue Note)
    Lee Morgan, Lee-Way (Blue Note)
    Herbie Hancock, Empyrean Isles (Blue Note)
    Red Garland, All Mornin’ Long (Prestige)

    I had to narrow my list down from about 35 of my favorites (!). I love covers with lots of geometry, solid colors, and/or serene scenes. Lots of Prestige/New Jazz covers portrayed serene sort of scenes, Coolin’ and All Mornin’ Long are two examples. It’s hard to deny how awesome the cover of Stanley Turrentine and the Three Sounds is…I don’t really care for the music but the cover is just brilliant. I guess I have a thing for covers with this ‘serenity’ I’m speaking of, I’m noticing this now, because Tender Feelin’s, the Turrentine cover, Empyrean Isles, the Wallington cover, these are all really ‘calm’ sort of images to me.

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