Thursday, 16 May 2019

Archie Shepp ‎– Attica Blues (1972)

Style: Soul-Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Impulse!

A1.   Attica Blues
A2.  Invocation: Attica Blues
A3.   Steam, Part 1
A4.   Invocation To Mr. Parker
A5.   Steam, Part 2
B1.   Blues For Brother George Jackson
B2.   Invocation: Ballad For A Child
B3.   Ballad For A Child
B4.   Good Bye Sweet Pops
B5.   Quiet Dawn

Roland Alexander - Sax (Tenor), Soloist
Ollie Anderson - Percussion
Joshie Armstead - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
John Blake - Guest Artist, Violin
Marion Brown - Bamboo Flute, Flute, Guest Artist, Percussion, Sax (Alto), Soloist
Dave Burrell - Guest Artist, Piano (Electric)
Roy Burrowes - Soloist, Trumpet
Walter Davis, Jr. - Guest Artist, Piano (Electric)
Walter Davis - Piano, Piano (Electric)
Nene DeFense - Percussion
Ken Druker - Executive Producer
Cornell Dupree - Guest Artist, Guitar
Romulus Franceschini - Conductor, Vocals
Jimmy Garrison - Bass
Clyde Gilliam - Design
Bart Gray - Composer
Bazzi Bartholomew Gray - Narrator, Text
Charles "Majeed" Greenlee -Trombone
Suha Gur - Reissue Mastering
Beaver Harris - Drums
W.G. Harris - Composer
Billy Higgins - Drums
Henry Hull - Vocals
Hakim Jami - Euphonium
Gerald Jemmott - Bass, Soloist
Leroy Jenkins - Guest Artist, Violin
Hollis King - Reissue Art Director
Bryan Koniarz - Reissue Producer
Ronald Lipscomb - Cello, Viola
Cal Massey - Composer, Flugelhorn, Guest Artist, Soloist
Waheeda Massey - Vocals
Tony May - Engineer
Charles McGhee - Soloist, Trumpet
Ed Michel- Original Recording Producer, Producer
Michael Ridley - Trumpet
Albertine Robinson - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Bill Robinson - Sax (Tenor)
Billy Robinson - Sax (Tenor)
Calo Scott - Cello, Viola
Lakshminarayana Shankar - Violin
Archie Shepp - Composer, Primary Artist, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor), Soloist
Mark Smith - Reissue Assistant Producer
Sherniece Smith - Reissue Art Director
Charles Stephens - Soloist, Trombone
Charles Stewart - Photography
Juma Sultan - Percussion
Clifford Thornton - Cornet
James Ware - Sax (Baritone)
Clarence White - Sax (Alto)
Joe Lee Wilson - Vocals
Roland Wilson - Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Bass)
Kiane Zawadi - Soloist, Trombone 2004

In the 60s political sentiments had been central to the work of musicians like Archie Shepp, Max Roach and John Coltrane. As the 70s dawned, mainstream black music made those sentiments explicit. While many jazzers adopted the innovations of James Brown, Sly Stone et al, most did it at a purely musical level. Shepp could have just added a spot of electric funk to his usual arsenal of free jazz, R'n'B and romantic Ellingtonia. Instead with 1972's Attica Blues he created a furious, tender blast of faintly psychedelic soul jazz that's a jewel in his vast, uneven discography. 
The opening title track refers to the shooting of 43 inmates at the Attica Prison riot some months before. Shepp distils righteous, bristlinganger into a huge, shuddering slice of funk. Two electric bassists, four percussionists and obligatory wah-wah guitars provide monster riffage under huge slabs of horns, strings and Henry Hull's urgent, desperate vocal pleading. 
The album never touches those energy levels again, but finds its intensity in different ways. "Steam" is one of Shepp's loveliest tunes and gets a couple of string-soaked readings here,topped off with whirling, electronically treated soprano and Joe Lee Wilson's mellifluous vocal. "Blues for Brother George Jackson" is classic Shepp R&B -more dancefloor friendly perhaps and posessed of some fruity tenor blasts, while the gorgeous "Ballad for a Child" hints at the lush melancholic protest of What's Going On. 
It's on this track that Shepp's blend of avant brutalism and Ben Webster-esque tenderness works best. Remember, this is the man that described himself as a sentimentalist, not a romantic.Solos are kept short if not sweet; the soprano outing on Cal Massey's Louis Armstrong tribute "Goodbye Sweet Pops" is one of the few that last more than a few bars. 
The album closes with another Massey tune, "Quiet Dawn",sung by the composer's seven year old daughter in a faltering voice. It's not as bad as it might sound, honest, but it's an inauspicious ending to an otherwise indispensable record.
Peter Marsh / BBC Review 

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