20 January 2007
ARCHIE SHEPP - FOR LOSERS
New thing collides with funky r&b on this 1969 release by Mr.Shepp for Impulse.
Here's a great review from Craig over at the excellent Daily Jazz Blogspot:
"This 1971 release brings together material from three sessions spread across 1968-9 featuring three different bands. After the full-on sonic assault of the previous years' 'Pitchin Can' and 'Coral Rock' I can imagine Shepp fans picking this one up and saying "Woah! What's all this about?". For while there is free jazz here, it's hidden beneath an accessible surface that takes the form of funky soul-jazz ('Stick 'em Up', 'Abstract'), sweet balladry ('I Got It Bad', 'What Would It Be...') and a Yasmina style funky freak-out.
'Stick 'em Up' stands out as being unlike anything else in Shepp's discography. Over a funky backbeat worthy of James Brown, Leon Thomas provides a R&B vocal (unlike anything else I've heard him do, either) and the band play tight, well arranged parts. Archie pops up with short solos all over the place, applying his abrasive tone to straightahead material where it actually fits quite well. 'Abstract' is almost, but not quite, more of the same - while it's still tight and funky there's more of a jazz feel in the solos and overall structure of the piece. In fact, it's very much in a soul-jazz style, and would fit nicely on a Cannonball Adderley LP were it not for the unhinged soloing of Shepp.
The ballads provide a nice change of pace and another early example of Shepp playing it sweet, something he would do more and more throughout the 1970s. 'I Got It Bad', in particular, has nary a challenging harmony in sight - unthinkable for a Shepp recording of the period! 'Normal' service is resumed with the closing 'Un Croque Monsieur'. Shepp sets up an insistent, funky theme counterpointed nicely by Payne's baritone (note - this theme was lifted, in it's entirety, and used to great effect in Stereolab's 'Outer Bongolia' from 2000's 'First Of The Microbe Hunters' mini-LP. Not jazz in the slightest, but still worth a listen). Once he's set it up, Shepp wanders off on soprano and explores every possibility that the theme suggests, as well as a few more besides. Chambers sounds increasingly dissastisfied with this and around the 7-minute mark leads the group into a collective free-improvisation that'll have the hardcore Shepp fans feeling right at home. This fades into the 'For Losers' poem, but is rescued by Walton's huge piano riff that drives the band through the remaining choruses."
On 'Un Croque Monsieur', 'I Got It Bad', 'What Would It Be Without You' (26.08.1969)
ARCHIE SHEPP; tenor sax, soprano sax WOODY SHAW; trumpet MATTHEW GEE; trombone CLARENCE SHARPE; alto sax CECIL PAYNE; baritone sax CEDAR WALTON; piano
WILBUR WARE; bass JOE CHAMBERS; drums CHINA-LIN SHARPE; vocals
On 'Stick 'em Up' (09.09.1968)
ARCHIE SHEPP; tenor sax MARTIN BANKS; trumpet & flugelhorn GRACHAN MONCUR III;trombone MARTIN KENYATTA; alto sax ANDREW BEY; piano ALBERT WINSTON; fender bass
BERT PAYNE; guitar BEAVER HARRIS; drums LEON THOMAS; vocals DORIS TROY; vocals
TASHA THOMAS; vocals
On 'Abstract' (17.02.1969)
ARCHIE SHEPP; tenor sax JIMMY OWENS; trumpet & flugelhorn GRACHAN MONCUR III; trombone JAMES SPAULDING; alto sax CHARLES DAVIS; baritone sax DAVE BURRELL; organ
WALLY RICHARDSON; guitar BOB BUSHNELL; fender bass BERNARD PURDIE; drums
The album made a reissue in Japan on cd but otherwise it's an original if you want one.
This post is ripped from the original Impulse vinyl at 320.