130

Archie Shepp w/ the Ritual Trio: Conversations

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Archie Shepp has long held a special distinction as one of the pioneers of the so-called New Thing in jazz. Possessed of a sharp intellect and a deep pride in his African heritage he was one of the most vocal and uncompromising skeptics, challenging both his peers and himself to question not only musical conventions but societal and cultural ones as well. Kahil El’Zabar’s path has taken a similar course and has been undeniably influenced by the example set by Shepp. Therefore their meeting makes perfect sense and the only real surprise arises out of why they didn’t collaborate sooner.

“Conversations” serves as a timely alliance and more importantly a chance to collectively celebrate of the life and talents of bassist Fred Hopkins another legendary innovator and one of the guiding lights in the history of Chicago’s creative improvised music community. Hopkins passed away shortly before this disc was recorded and his departure left a rift in the Windy City’s musical heritage that will never be filled. The opening “Conversations 1” captures this sense of loss in a poignantly rendered eulogy propelled by Shepp’s raspy tenor. Rarely has the man coaxed such naked emotion from his horn and the tender accompaniment from the trio shapes soothing rhythmic blanket around his aching lines. “Big Fred” moves past this initial melancholy into more celebratory realms and is a feature for Shepp’s fervent folklore-influenced lyrics. El’Zabar’s earthy African percussion also makes an appearance on this piece.

Regrettably Shepp and Brown spend most of the disc on different instruments, trading duties on saxophone and piano back and forth except on “Brother Malcolm” where both exchange gusty phrases on their reeds. Brown proves a far more adept pianist than Shepp, but the latter’s awkward comping on “Kari” still manages to mesh well the piece’s off-kilter groove. I was expecting more opportunities to hear them both on tenor together and their decision not feature such a combination more often was the only disappointment in an otherwise stunningly executed disc. Here’s hoping that this is only the first of many more meetings between Shepp and his like-minded friends in Chicago.


Track Listing: Conversations 1; The Introduction/ Big Fred/ Kari/ Whenever I Think of You/ Conversations 2; The Dialogue/ Brother Malcolm/ Revelations. Recorded: January 23 & 24, 1999, Riverside Studios, Chicago, IL.

Personnel: Archie Shepp- tenor saxophone, piano; Ari Brown- tenor saxophone, piano; Malachi Favors- double bass; Kahil El

| Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Simplicity" CD/LP/Track Review Simplicity
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Central Line" CD/LP/Track Review Central Line
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Fellowship" CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "I Have Known Mountains" CD/LP/Track Review I Have Known Mountains
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 25, 2016
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!