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Four for Trane

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Album Review

From 1964, Archie Shepp's first date as a leader featured — as one would expect from the title — four tunes by John Coltrane, his mentor, his major influence, and his bandleader. The fact that this album holds up better than almost any of Shepp's records nearly 40 years after the fact has plenty to do with the band he chose for this session, and everything to do with the arranging skills of trombonist Roswell Rudd. The band here is Shepp on tenor, John Tchicai on alto, Rudd on trombone, Trane's bassist Reggie Workman, and Ornette Coleman's drummer Charles Moffett. Even in 1964, this was a powerhouse, beginning with a bluesed-out wailing version of "Syeeda's Song Flute." This version is ingenious, with Shepp allowing Rudd to arrange for solos for himself and Tchicai up front and Rudd punching in the blues and gospel in the middle, before giving way to double time by Workman and Moffett. The rawness of the whole thing is so down-home you're ready to tell someone to pass the butter beans when listening. Rudd's arrangement of "Naima" is also stunningly beautiful: He reharmonizes the piece for the mid-register tone of Shepp, who does his best Ben Webster and adds a microtonal tag onto the front and back, dislocating the tune before it begins and after it ends, while keeping it just out of the range of the consonant throughout. Wonderful! The only Shepp original here is "Rufus (Swung, His Face at Last to the Wind, Then His Neck Snapped)." It's not a terribly sophisticated tune, but it works in the context of this band largely because of the soloing prowess of all the members — particularly Tchicai — here. There is barely any melody, the key changes are commensurate with tempo shifts, and the harmonics are of the sliding scale variety. Still, there are the blues; no one can dig into them and honk them better than Shepp. When it came to sheer exuberance and expression, he was a force to be reckoned with in his youth, and it shows in each of the tunes recorded here. Four for Trane is a truly fine, original, and lasting album from an under-celebrated musician.

Customer Reviews

A landmark, pivotal, package with punch.

The only detraction from what remains of this session is the fact that it isn't longer than 37 minutes. Something was in the Hudson Valley's air that night. Magic is far less than this masterful polishing of post-bop's ease of tension. Try to find a non-glowing review written about '4 for Trane' may take a very long time. Perhaps as long as what should remain taped by a lineup such as this. But the sounds heard defy critics' lame attempts at erecting a pedestal high enough. RVG sudio is just a 5 mile jazz crow-flight from Harlem. I'm sure the Bird-spirits were unable to sleep in Manhattan as the dawn of Aug. 11 came into the other side of the loft. After 1964, jazz relocated across the pond. {on an odd note: when I imported my cd to my i-Tune file, the 'artist' listed as, 'The Sheep'} WTH? Go figure!

October Of 1964...

In the Autumn of 1964 in NYC many jazzers were deciding to give the one-finger salute to popular music and play whatever the kcuf they wanted. I like it.

Four For Trane-Archie Shepp

A most inspiring album . I have listened to this amazing music since 1967 - what a moving tribute to Trane . I can't really tell anyone how emotionally powerful - so sad and joyous it affects me ! Four For Trane is a great great record . Michael Weber , born 1945 in Kansas City , I've lived in San Fransisco since 1966


Born: May 24, 1937 in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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