New Thing at Newport (Expanded Edition) by Archie Shepp on Apple Music

9 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

More than a simple long player, New Thing At Newport stands as a symbolic snapshot; the meaning of this package lies not only with the music, but with its context. Recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 2, 1969, the “New Thing” of the title refers to the term used at the time for the wave of young musicians who sought to probe the boundaries of jazz. They were following a trail started by Coltrane, whose own perpetual quest is represented in his two extended performances here which find him searching for a voice outside what his classic quartet could provide. Shepp’s performance in the second half of the album, with the throaty howl of his horn and his brazen taste for experimentation, acts as rejoinder and instigant to Coltrane. In the months following Newport, Coltrane would disband his immortal quartet and reconstitute his music with a whole new set of young free-thinking musicians. Shepp’s music developed parallel to Coltrane in a series of classic albums for Impulse and Actuel. A period of such intense transformation could never be traced to a single starting point; however, New Thing at Newport feels like the final moment before jazz was pushed off its precipice only to sprout a whole new set of wings.

EDITORS’ NOTES

More than a simple long player, New Thing At Newport stands as a symbolic snapshot; the meaning of this package lies not only with the music, but with its context. Recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 2, 1969, the “New Thing” of the title refers to the term used at the time for the wave of young musicians who sought to probe the boundaries of jazz. They were following a trail started by Coltrane, whose own perpetual quest is represented in his two extended performances here which find him searching for a voice outside what his classic quartet could provide. Shepp’s performance in the second half of the album, with the throaty howl of his horn and his brazen taste for experimentation, acts as rejoinder and instigant to Coltrane. In the months following Newport, Coltrane would disband his immortal quartet and reconstitute his music with a whole new set of young free-thinking musicians. Shepp’s music developed parallel to Coltrane in a series of classic albums for Impulse and Actuel. A period of such intense transformation could never be traced to a single starting point; however, New Thing at Newport feels like the final moment before jazz was pushed off its precipice only to sprout a whole new set of wings.

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About Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp has been at various times a feared firebrand and radical, soulful throwback and contemplative veteran. He was viewed in the '60s as perhaps the most articulate and disturbing member of the free generation, a published playwright willing to speak on the record in unsparing, explicit fashion about social injustice and the anger and rage he felt. His tenor sax solos were searing, harsh, and unrelenting, played with a vivid intensity. But in the '70s, Shepp employed a fatback/swing-based R&B approach, and in the '80s he mixed straight bebop, ballads, and blues pieces displaying little of the fury and fire from his earlier days. Shepp studied dramatic literature at Goddard College, earning his degree in 1959. He played alto sax in dance bands and sought theatrical work in New York. But Shepp switched to tenor, playing in several free jazz bands. He worked with Cecil Taylor, co-led groups with Bill Dixon and played in the New York Contemporary Five with Don Cherry and John Tchicai. He led his own bands in the mid-'60s with Roswell Rudd, Bobby Hutcherson, Beaver Harris, and Grachan Moncur III. His Impulse albums included poetry readings and quotes from James Baldwin and Malcolm X. Shepp's releases sought to paint an aural picture of African-American life, and included compositions based on incidents like Attica or folk sayings. He also produced plays in New York, among them The Communist in 1965 and Lady Day: A Musical Tragedy in 1972 with trumpeter/composer Cal Massey. But starting in the late '60s, the rhetoric was toned down and the anger began to disappear from Shepp's albums. He substituted a more celebratory, and at times reflective attitude. Shepp turned to academia in the late '60s, teaching at SUNY in Buffalo, then the University of Massachusetts. He was named an associate professor there in 1978. Shepp toured and recorded extensively in Europe during the '80s, cutting some fine albums with Horace Parlan, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and Jasper van't Hof. Shepp continued to tour and record throughout the '90s and '00s. Moving from provocative free-jazz icon in his youth to elder jazz journeyman in his latter years, Shepp has appeared on a variety of labels over the years including Impulse, Byg, Arista/Freedom, Phonogram, Steeplechase, Denon, Enja, EPM, and Soul Note. ~ Ron Wynn & Scott Yanow

  • ORIGIN
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • BORN
    May 24, 1937

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