Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Archie SHEPP - First Take (Live) 2003
This live recording, made in 2003 in Montpelier, France, is the first issue on Archie Shepp’s own label, Archieball. “First Take” is an album of duets between Shepp and his long-time friend & collaborator, pianist Siegfried “Siggy” Kessler - who he first met in Paris in the 60’s and who was a member of Shepp’s quartet for 10 years.
After a long lapse of time, they are united once again on this fine album - recreating the natural empathy they felt at their first chance meeting - when Shepp heard one of his own compositions “The Morning of the Blacks” (only then recently recorded) being played by Siggy in a Paris night club. They reinvestigate the piece for 23 minutes on the wonderful, opening track of this album, before going on to play their versions of Strayhorn’s “Lush Life”, Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and 3 more Shepp originals, with a brief detour to Monk’s “Misterioso”. Two master musicians in complete, heartfelt harmony. Shepp, playing soprano & tenor and occasionally providing evocative vocals, plays as expressively as ever - a real return to form.
Paired with German pianist Siegfried Kessler, Archie Shepp finds himself in an evocative mood on First Take. Recorded live in France, they perform an intimate and at times haunting set of six tunes. The disc begins with the 22-minute sojourn of "Les Matin de Noirs" ("The Morning of the Blacks"). A surprisingly smooth ride, considering its length, the opening number goes a long way to ease and convince the listener of the album's gentle vibe. Shepp never pushes and Kessler never insists, resulting in an intricate, musical dance of subtleties and niceties.
Versions of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and Shepp's most recognizable composition, "Steam," are done with melodic care and structural freedom. The progressions of these songs rely greatly on the mood and feel of the duo and, many times, they wonderfully depart from commonly known versions. The "Misterioso/California Blues" medley, in particular, sways nicely to the suggestive winds of sorrow and hope. The closing number, Shepp's "Ujaama," deviates from the album's other songs by actually preserving its inherent, tight, straightahead groove. Even here, though, Shepp and Kessler's symbiotic relationship is what best defines the music.
An impressive, worthwhile album, First Take is being released on Archie Shepp's new label, his own Archie Ball Records.
By Germein Linares. AAJ.
Archie Shepp- Tenor Sax, Vocals;
Siegfried Kessler- Piano.
01. Le matin des noirs Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 23:24 Album Only
02. Lush life Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 10:44 Album Only
03. Don't get around much anymore Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 6:34 £0.79
04. Steam Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 12:12 Album Only
05. Misterioso / California Blues Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 10:35 Album Only
06. Ujaama Archie Shepp, Siegfried Kessler 8:36