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Archie Shepp – Attica Blues

Posted on: August 3, 2007

The professor and the musician. Archie Shepp taught music and music history in the African-American Studies department at the University of Massachusetts until the year 2000. Besides this profession Archie Sheep recorded several jazz milestones, first in Cecil Taylor´s band and together with John Coltrane, later with his own band. Shepp not only taught (african) music history, he also explored the african music and fused it with jazz. He developed to play his saxophon from a more traditional swing way to one of the most outstanding avantgarde-jazz musicians. Along with Pharoah Sanders he was at the forefront of the new Afrocentricity in the black community. John Coltrane’s admiration led to recordings for Impulse, Attica Blues (1972) is one of his later works for them. The title is a direct reference to the Attica Prison riots, where the prisoners had demanded better living conditions and after the riot at least thirty-nine people were dead. John Lennon wrote the song “Attica State” and “Attica Blues” also is an important part of the cultural impact the uprising had in the US-society.

Listen to the angry title track, monster riffage and desperate vocals. The energy level is high, very very high! But you also will understand why Archie Shepp described himself as a sentimentalist, not a romantic – he creates an emotional vibe which holds on the whole record length. “Blues for brother George Jackson” is written in memory to the murdered George Jackson. His books gave a realistic insight to the lifes of African-Americans in the 60s and early 70s, Archie Sheep himself is an important voice of the black community and their struggles. In his music you can hear and feel this struggles, and you can hear in which wide diversity someone is able to interpret jazz music. His last studio record “Deja Vu” is from 2001.


3 Responses to "Archie Shepp – Attica Blues"

nice post & a powerful piece of music…sometimes play it in my criminology class…anger burns out of the vinyl (or cd)

good to hear many people appreciate (background) informations on the records and artists, not only DL-links, the music deserves more than these two-clicks “postings” you can read in several blox

[…] one of the first jazz records which adressed racial and political issues actively (and maybe now Archie Shepp comes to your mind?). “We insist” received mixed reviews, but it gives you a good […]

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