Archie Shepp Talking Jazz
Archie Shepp has long been a leading spokesperson for the black experience in America. During the ‘60’s, his recordings on the Impulse label embodied a rare fusion of the so-called "free" music of John Coltrane and the soul music of James Brown. His inclusion of long tone poems on his albums anticipated the rise of jazz poets, such as Gil Scott-Herron, and indicated the range and depth of his cultural thinking. Today, he is a full professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and carries himself with all the dignity that title bestows. On the other hand, he is also the quintessential street musician, with an ear for the rhythms of ghetto life and an eye toward its ironies. He is a rare individual whose experience as an actor in the legitimate theater, as a musical protege of John Coltrane, and as an educator at a leading American University gives him a particularly broad over-view of the jazz scene. The following conversation took place in New York City, where we met one winter afternoon, Archie driving the three hours from Amhurst and myself flying in from Chicago. We briefly renewed old acquaintances (Archie and I had last seen each other in 1984 when we played a concert together) and then rolled the tape.