Still Ferocious in his Eighties: Archie Shepp

Although The Washington Post’s Lauren Du Graf seems a little too glib in linking tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp’s intense Free Jazz and provocative Pan-African, Black Nationalist sentiments to contemporary academics and rappers he does give the 81-year-old elder statesman a forum to speak his mind. Mentioned are Shepp’s stance as the purported heir and extension of the musical ideas of his mentor, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, and the many challenging the influential discs made by the saxophonist, as well as his dramatic spoken word interludes. Shepp, who now divides his time between Paris and Massachusetts, where he taught at the Massachusetts University at Amherst for 30 years, and still constantly tours, may have promoted a world view to his students as well younger Jazz players like pianist Jason Moran and percussionist Makaya McCraven, linking subsequent advances in the arts in Algeria to Shepp’s stand-out concert at the famous Pan-African Festival in 1969 may be giving the musician more credit than he wants.