Archie Shepp

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Archie Shepp at a concert in Warsaw in July 2008

Vernon "Archie" Shepp (born May 24, 1937 in Fort Lauderdale , Florida ) is an American jazz musician ( tenor and soprano saxophone , piano ), composer , singer, and literary and theater scholar . He is considered one of the most important intellectuals in modern jazz.

Live and act

Shepp grew up in Philadelphia , where he first learned to play the piano, clarinet and alto saxophone; then he switched to tenor. He played in local rhythm and blues bands and met Lee Morgan , Cal Massey , Jimmy Heath and John Coltrane . Shepp studied literature at Goddard College from 1955 to 1959; upon graduation, he moved to New York City . There Shepp began his professional career as a musician in 1960 in the band of Cecil Taylor and took part in the film The Connection . In 1963 he was a member of the New York Contemporary Five , which included Don Cherry and John Tchicai, as well as bassist Don Moore and drummer JC Moses; the band had emerged from a short-lived formation that Shepp had led with Bill Dixon . He toured with Tchicai and Cherry in 1964 in the Soviet Union , Czechoslovakia and Finland, where they performed at the Helsinki Jazz Festival .

In August 1964 he recorded his first session under his own name, the album Four for Trane for Impulse! .

Then he worked a. a. with Bill Dixon, John Tchicai, Don Cherry and especially with John Coltrane , with whom he played in New York clubs; In 1965 he worked on Coltrane's album Ascension with. His performance at the Newport Jazz Festival was accompanied by Coltrane's music on Impulse! published ( New Thing at Newport ); Archie Shepp established himself as an artist of the jazz avant-garde in the USA and around the world, thanks in particular to Coltrane's support.

Pioneering recordings followed in different line-ups under his own name (including with Roswell Rudd , Bobby Hutcherson , Beaver Harris and Grachan Moncur III ), which made Shepp one of the most important protagonists of the jazz avant-garde and free jazz in the 1960s.

Archie Shepp was not only a musical pioneer, but also the political and social mouthpiece of a new black self-confidence; so he wrote in the Down Beat in 1965 : "I am an anti-fascist artist". A high point of the political engagement of the "angry young man" was the appearance at the Pan-African Festival in 1969 in Algiers .

Despite all its neo-neural radicalism, Shepp's music was always less abstract than that of other avant-garde artists of the era; Shepps' strong emotional style of playing was always in the tradition of the great swing saxophonists like Ben Webster or Coleman Hawkins , which is based on the interplay of rough and gently breathed tones, different registers and volume levels.

Concert in the Red Hall of the Deutschordensmuseum Bad Mergentheim, 2016

From the mid-1960s Shepp worked with his own formations; In 1967 he had an octet with which he recorded Mama Too Tight , incorporating Ellington influences, R&B rhythms, marching music elements; In 1968 he took sextet with Jimmy Owens , Grachan Moncur III and Walter Davis Jr. the album The Way Ahead on. In 1969 he worked with the trumpeter Cal Massey , played his compositions and toured with him through Europe and North Africa, where Shepp performed with the poet Haki R. Madhubuti at the Pan-African Festival . In the early 1970s, Shepp worked again with Massey on the production of Lady Day: A Musical Tregedy , which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music . Shepp then wrote other pieces and held courses at the University at Buffalo , since 1973 at the University of Massachusetts .

In the 1970s and 1980s, Shepp's playing became increasingly interspersed with elements of traditional African American music. For Shepp, blues , gospel and spiritual are the very own means of expression of blacks in the USA. He wanted to give them music with which the discriminated black community in the ghettos could identify.

In 2004 Archie Shepp fulfilled a long-cherished dream by founding his own label Archieball together with his partner Monette Berthomier in Paris. The label is not only intended to serve its own productions, but also as a platform for young Afro-American jazz musicians. There were also works and collaborations with artists such as Jacques Coursil , Mônica Passos , Bernard Lubat and Frank Cassenti.

On his 75th birthday, Shepp was awarded an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris in 2012 .

Selection discography

  • Archie Shepp - Bill Dixon Quartet (Savoy, 1962)
  • New York Contemporary Five (Storyville, 1963)
  • Four for Trane (Impulse !, 1964)
  • New Thing at Newport (Impulse !, 1965)
  • Fire Music (Impulse !, 1965)
  • On This Night (Impulse !, 1965)
  • Live in San Francisco (Impulse !, 1966)
  • Mama Too Tight (Impulse !, 1966)
  • Live at the Donaueschingen Music Festival ( MPS 1967)
  • The Way Ahead (Impulse !, 1968)
  • Blasé ( BYG actuel , 1969) with Jeanne Lee
  • Yasmina, a Black Woman (BYG actuel, 1969)
  • Live at the Pan African Festival (BYG actuel, 1969)
  • For Losers (Impulse !, 1970)
  • Things Have Got to Change (Impulse !, 1971)
  • The Cry of My People (Impulse !, 1972)
  • Attica Blues ( Verve , 1972)
  • Kwanza (Impulse !, 1974)
  • A Sea of ​​Faces ( Black Saint , 1975)
  • Steam ( Enja , 1976)
  • Max Roach / Archie Shepp Force (1976)
  • Goin 'Home ( Steeplechase , 1976)
  • Lady Bird (Denon, 1978)
  • Max Roach / Archie Shepp The Long March ( Hat ART , 1979)
  • Looking at Bird (Steeplechase, 1980)
  • Archie Shepp & Jasper van't Hof Mama Rose (Steeplechase, 1985 (rec. 1982))
  • Archie Shepp & Chet Baker In Memory of ( L + R , 1988)
  • I Didn't Know About You ( Timeless , 1990)
  • Roswell Rudd & Archie Shepp Live in New York (Verve, 2000)
  • Archie Shepp & Mal Waldron Left Alone Revisited (Enja, 2002)
  • Archie Shepp I Know About The Life (HatHut, 2003)
  • Archie Shepp & Siegfried Kessler First Take (2003)
  • Phat Jam in Milano (Dawn of Freedom, 2009)
  • Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn Wo! Man (ArchieBall, 2010)
  • Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra: I Hear the Sound (2013)

Shepp has also worked on albums by John Coltrane , Johnny Copeland , Dave Burrell , Kahil El'Zabar , Chico Hamilton , Karin Krog , Yusef Lateef , Grachan Moncur III , Abdullah Ibrahim , Buell Neidlinger and Cecil Taylor .


Archie Shepp in 1982 in France

Web links

Commons : Archie Shepp  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from Cook / Morton, p. 1182.
  2. The material, recorded in November 1963 with Lars Gullin , Tete Montoliu and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen , was only later published by the Steeplechase label under the title The House I Live in . See Cook / Morton, 1183.
  3. The information on the early years is taken from Ian Carr's Shepp biography in the Jazz - Rough Guide , p. 581.
  4. Quoted from Ian Carr, p. 581.
  5. The selection of the albums was essentially based on the Penguin Guide to Jazz ; Issues 1992, 2001 and 2006; as well as the Jazz - Rough Guide .