Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Archie Shepp - 1972 - The Cry Of My People

Archie Shepp 
The Cry Of My People

01. Rest Enough (Song To Mother) 4:38
02. A Prayer 6:29
03. All God's Children Got A Home In The Universe 2:57
04. The Lady 5:28
05. The Cry Of My People 5:43
06. African Drum Suite, Part 1 0:35
07. African Drum Suite, Part 2 7:32
08. Come Sunday 9:30

Bass – Jimmy Garrison (tracks: A2, A4 to B4)
Bass [Fender] – Ron Carter (tracks: A1, A3, B1)
Cello – Esther Mellon (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B3, B4), Pat Dixon (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B3, B4)
Drums – Beaver Harris (tracks: A3 to B1), Bernard Purdie (tracks: A1, A2)
Guitar – Cornell Dupree (tracks: A1, A3)
Percussion – Nene DeFense (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B4)
Piano – Dave Burrell (tracks: B2. B3), Harold Mabern (tracks: A1 to B1, B4)
Soprano Saxophone – Archie Shepp (tracks: A2, A4, B3)
Tambourine – Nene DeFense (tracks: A1, A3)
Tenor Saxophone – Archie Shepp (tracks: A3, A4, B1, B4)
Trombone – Charles Greenlee (tracks: A2 to B3), Charles Stephens (tracks: A2 to B1, B4)
Trumpet – Charles McGhee (tracks: A2 to B1, B3, B4)
Violin – Gayle Dixon (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B3, B4), Jerry Little (tracks: A4, B3, B4), John Blake (tracks: A2, B1), Leroy Jenkins (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B3, B4), Lois Siessinger (tracks: A2, B1), Noel DaCosta (tracks: A4, B3, B4)
Vocals – Andre Franklin (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B3), Patterson Singers (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B3)
Vocals – Joe Lee Wilson

Black center labels with neon Impulse! logo beside white ABC logo.

Recorded September 25-27, 1972, at Allegro Sound Studios, New York City. Mixed at The Village Recorder, Los Angeles.

This is a truly stupendous album from Mr. Shepp, which masterfully brings together all genres of African American music (up to the early 70's). The album is akin to "Attica Blues" and features many of the same musicians, including Joe Lee Wilson's incredible vocals. It also features more compositions by Cal Massey, a man who worked wonders alongside Shepp. Where this album differs from "Attica Blues" is that it features slightly less funk and free jazz, and has more of a gospel influence which permeates throughout.

Compositional credits include two songs by Archie Shepp, two by Cal Massey, two by Beaver Harris, one by Ford and one by Ellington. Having come to love "Attica Blues" before purchasing this disc, my favourite songs are those by Shepp and Massey. To my ears they've got the most swing and emotional colouring, though "The Lady" is quite stunning (particularly Wilson's vocals), and "Come Sunday" makes for a great closer. The album ebbs and flows in all the right places, and seems to have a perfect inner logic. It takes the listener along on a journey, and establishes a mood and headspace which are simply infectious once the disc starts spinning. While the album really works as a whole, there are some sections that really stand out and make you take notice: The astounding gospel-inflected vocals and horn parts on "All God's Children got a Home in the Universe", the latin-flavoured swing section (and incredible bass playing therein) on "A Prayer", and both the tempo change and haunting final vocal note of "The Lady" (which still sends shivers every time I hear it).

In all, I would highly recommend this album to anyone with an interest in the ouevre of Mr. Shepp, or in the eclectic nature of "jazz" music in the 1970's. If you like "Attica Blues" and are looking for a next album to turn to, this is definitely it. I know there are others from this era, but they are unfortunately out of print or in a state of flux. Enjoy this aural lesson in African American musical identity, and let it move you.

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