Sweet Georgia Brown
Doodlin – takes 1 and 2
Worried About You
If You Could See Me Now
More Than You Know
It’s Archie Shepp here but not as usually encountered. For this session, he
sat down at the keyboard for a session largely but not exclusively with
bassist Bob Reid that took in everything from Sweet Georgia Brown
to the song John Coltrane liked so much, Matt Dennis’s Invitation.
Shepp’s pianism was predicated almost wholly on lines established by
Thelonious Monk. That said, Shepp wasn’t very good and played moreover on
an instrument that was the pianistic equivalent of a skinned cat. It was
horribly out of tune. Georgia Brown gets the hobbly Monkish treatment
veering toward a kind of satiric-Stride and ending rather inertly. There
are two takes of Horace Silver’s Doodlin’, which responds to
Shepp’s cussed Monkisms, though it doesn’t help that he has no technique to
speak of. Shepp had heard Coltrane play Invitation and despite the
bovinely repetitive left hand vamping, there are bustling right hand
flurries and moments too of real tenderness.
Percussionist Muhammed Ali and Al Shorter – brother of the more famous
Wayne – appear in Shepp’s own composition Worried About You, where
a repetitive piano figure provokes both instrumentalists into fevered
outpourings – in Shorter’s case, flugelhorn flurries and in the
percussionist’s rather Latino effects. At heart, it all remains an
inconsequential vamp. But there are deft, even winsome elements at play in
the primitive but communicative If You Could See Me Now where
Reid’s busy-busy bass supports more Monkish manoeuvres. The final tracks
are allusive, sometimes quietly ruminative, even romantic in places. Shepp
lacks the ability to furnish a more rounded quality to his playing on the
piano but he does at least develop sharply defined characterisation.
Nat Hentoff’s extensive sleeve notes have been retained and rightly so.
One for the Shepp Completist.