Archie Shepp is in fine form on his latest CD, Tomorrow will be Another Day. The New Archie Shepp Quartet is an excellent group composed of Shepp on tenor, soprano and vocals, Amina Claudine Myers on piano and vocals, Cameron Brown on bass and Ronnie Burrage on drums and wave drum. The recording is a nice mix of songs and moods, and the combination of Shepp and Myers is formidable: both are strong performers with long histories, and their collaboration is an exercise in mutual charisma.
The CD starts off with a swinging version of "Blue Monk," light and joyful. The rest is composed of four songs by Shepp and two by Myers. The Myers compositions are both gospels: "Call Him" features her rollicking vocals and the more stately "It's All Right" is lovely and heartfelt. Myers is a powerful pianist and singer with deep roots in gospel and jazz and in these songs she successfully combines these influences. Shepp's songs "Tomorrow Will Be Another Day" and "The Stars are in Your Eyes" showcase his melodic gifts, and "Kwanza" is an up-tempo song with impassioned wailing by Shepp and propulsive bass work by Brown. The highlight of the CD is the final song, the Shepp composition "Mama Rose," recorded live at the Inntoene Festival in Austria. Shepp stretches out and blows to his heart's content, then cuts loose with lyrics inciting the audience to revolutionnever let it be said that Shepp has gotten soft in his later years!
Shepp sounds great on all the tracks, playing with vigor, drive and inventiveness. He's clearly inspired by his cohorts, particularly Myers, whose strength complements his own. And Brown and Burrage are an excellent rhythm section, providing crisp, swinging support. If you haven't checked out Archie Shepp in a while, Tomorrow will be Another Day is a good opportunity to catch up.