Monday, March 14, 2011

Archie Shepp - Yasmina, A Black Woman

Archie Shepp is in the running as one of my favorite jazz recording artists, due to his creative control and his strong easily discernable political message, not to mention his deeply emotive and not-yet-successfully-emulated tone. It's very easy to get what's left in print of Shepp's Impulse catalogue and call it a day, and although not all of his efforts on other labels are necessities, this is. These obscure French sessions feature some of the very best Shepp has ever played with, a bold statement considering previous company like Ron Carter, Roy Haynes, Reggie Workman, Cedar Walton, Woody Shaw, Marion Brow, Grachan Moncur, and his other impulse fellows. For example the first track features Phillie Joe Jones on set, Arthur Taylor on Rhythm Logs, and Sunny Murray on African Percussion. Three of the best drummers of the era are all playing at once. Needless to say it's a monster of a groove, with a proto-hip hop baseline, and some avant-funky soloing from Shepp who blasts into the song just befor the 4 minute mark with a tone that sounds like its electrically distorted, but it's all acoustic here, no worries. Some of the sections where the band drops out leaving Archie with just the rhythm section sound about 20 years ahead of their time in funkiness, just listen at 9:50. Dave Burrell also does some killer piano work. I have yet to hear improvisation from Shepp this crazy, intense, funky, and varied anywhere else. The second track is a wonderfully unique occurrence. Shepp has what amounts to a Sonny Rollins style piano-less blues duel with hard bop giant Hank Mobley. You will never hear this meeting anywhere else, and while this 14 minute blues out is less varied than the first track, at his heart, Shepp says he's a bluesman and it shows here. The composition incidentally is one of Grachan Moncur's first, making its first appearance on record here. Phillie is still on set here, and this track could easily be issued under his name too, absolutely insane drumming. The last track on the first LP reissued here is a great and highly emotive reading of Body and Soul by Shepp, and this track really rounds out the album with a bit of Shepp's Ben Webster balladry, making these three tracks a great summation of Shepp's best skills- afro percussive jazz and funk, expressionist blues, and new twists on old standards/ballads. At this price I can fully recommend this disc for the first LP alone, as Yasmina a Black Woman is an absolute 5 star album from Shepp. - by Gerrit R. Hatcher,

There is some intriguing music on this Affinity recording. Tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp met up with members of the Chicago avant-garde school for the first time, including Art Ensemble of Chicago members Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Favors, on the lengthy "Yasmina," a track that also includes drummers Philly Joe Jones, Art Taylor and Sunny Murray. On "Sonny's Back," there is an unlikely tenor tradeoff between Shepp and Hank Mobley, while "Body and Soul" gives Shepp a showcase opportunity. Although this set is not essential, it is unique enough to be recommended to avant-garde collectors. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Artist: Archie Shepp
Album: Yasmina, A Black Woman
Year: 1969
Label: Charly (1995)
Runtime: 40:43

1.  Yasmina, A Black Woman (Archie Shepp) 20:12
2.  Sonny's Back (Grachan Moncur III) 14:07
3.  Body and Soul (Frank Eyton/Johnny Green/Edward Heyman/Robert Sour) 6:23

Archie Shepp (Tenor Saxophone, Vocals)
Dave Burrell (Piano)
Malachi Favors (Double Bass)
Philly Joe Jones (Drums)
Clifford Thornton (Clarinet) - 1
Lester Bowie (Trumpet) - 1
Arthur Jones (Alto Saxophone) - 1
Roscoe Mitchell (Bass Saxophone) - 1
Earl Freeman (Double Bass) - 1
Sunny Murray (Drums and Percussion) - 1
Art Taylor (Rhythm Logs) - 1
Laurence Devereaux (Balafon) - 1
Hank Mobley (Tenor Saxophone) - 2


  1. A very welcome upgrade, thank you.

  2. gotta get familiar with Mr Shepp's music

  3. Thanks for these records from the Shepp's Free period.

  4. oops, u got the whole Art Ensemble on here?... I better check this one out.... do the links work?....



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