Attica Blues

Attica Blues

5.0 1
by Archie Shepp
     
 

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Refining his large-ensemble experiments of 1971, Attica Blues is one of Archie Shepp's most significant post-'60s statements, recorded just several months after authorities ended the Attica prison uprising by massacring 43 inmates and hostages. Perhaps because Shepp's musical interests were changing, Attica Blues isn't the all-out blast of rage one might

Overview

Refining his large-ensemble experiments of 1971, Attica Blues is one of Archie Shepp's most significant post-'60s statements, recorded just several months after authorities ended the Attica prison uprising by massacring 43 inmates and hostages. Perhaps because Shepp's musical interests were changing, Attica Blues isn't the all-out blast of rage one might expect; instead, it's a richly arranged album of mournful, quietly agonized blues and Ellingtonian swing, mixed with a couple of storming funk burners. Of course, Shepp doesn't quite play it straight, bringing his avant-garde sensibilities to both vintage big band and contemporary funk, with little regard for the boundaries separating them all. His soloing on tenor and soprano is typically sharp-edged and modal, and his nasal, slicing tone on soprano is featured quite heavily. The stylishness of the slow numbers is undercut with quivering, faintly unsettling dissonances, and the up-tempo funk cuts recall the way Sly Stone's arrangements ping-ponged many different elements off each other in a gleeful organized chaos. That's especially true on the gospel-inflected title song, a monster of a groove that later became a hit on the acid jazz revival circuit (and stands up to anything recorded by straight-up funk bands of the era). In the same vein, "Blues for Brother George Jackson" sounds like an edgier Isaac Hayes-style blaxploitation soundtrack cut. Vocal ballads are plentiful, and Joe Lee Wilson ("Steam," a song Shepp would return to often) and Carl Hall (aka Henry Hull) both acquit themselves well; more debatable are the poetic recitations and the choice of flügelhornist/composer Cal Massey's young daughter Waheeda to sing "Quiet Dawn" (although Waheeda's almost-there intonation is effectively creepy). Still, in the end, Attica Blues is one of Shepp's most successful large-group projects, because his skillful handling of so many different styles of black music produces such tremendously groovy results.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/11/2003
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0602465441420
catalogNumber:
654414

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Archie Shepp   Primary Artist,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Soloist
Walter Davis   Piano,Electric Piano
Clarence White   Alto Saxophone
John Blake   Violin
Marion Brown   Flute,Percussion,Alto Saxophone,Soloist,Bamboo Flute
Dave Burrell   Electric Piano
Beaver Harris   Drums
Billy Higgins   Drums
Leroy Jenkins   Violin
Clifford Thornton   Cornet
Roland Alexander   Tenor Saxophone,Soloist
Cal Massey   Flugelhorn,Soloist
Jimmy Garrison   Bass
Kiane Zawadi   Trombone,Soloist
Ollie Anderson   Percussion
Joshie Armstead   Vocals,Background Vocals
Roy Burrowes   Trumpet,Soloist
Walter Davis   Electric Piano
Nene DeFense   Percussion
Cornell Dupree   Guitar
Romulus Franceschini   Conductor,Vocals
Bazzi Bartholomew Gray   Narrator
Charles "Majeed" Greenlee   Trombone
Henry Hull   Vocals
Hakim Jami   Euphonium
Gerald Jemmott   Bass,Soloist
Ronald Lipscomb   Cello,Viola
Waheeda Massey   Vocals
Charles McGhee   Trumpet,Soloist
Michael Ridley   Trumpet
Albertine Robinson   Vocals,Background Vocals
Calo Scott   Cello,Viola
Lakshminarayana Shankar   Violin
Charles Stephens   Trombone,Soloist
James Ware   Baritone Saxophone
Joe Lee Wilson   Vocals
Bill Robinson   Tenor Saxophone
Juma Sultan   Percussion
Billy Robinson   Tenor Saxophone
Roland Wilson   Bass,Electric Bass,Bass Guitar

Technical Credits

Archie Shepp   Composer
Bazzi Bartholomew Gray   Text
Tony May   Engineer
Ed Michel   Producer
Mark Smith   Reissue Assistant Producer
W.G. Harris   Composer
Bryan Koniarz   Reissue Producer
Ken Druker   Executive Producer

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Attica Blues 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album includes a great collection of tracks: raucous funk numbers, brief spoken word pieces, and some colorful ballads. The title track Attica Blues will most likely burn your blouse off, so beware. Most importantly for the purposes of this review, a young young daughter of one of the members of the musical ensemble sings Quiet Dawn. She is great. Steve Huey dismisses her inclusion on the album as "debatable" but Steve Huey has no taste in music, so it's ok. As a student I've had the pleasure of playing with Mister Shepp. Regrettably I hadn't listened to Attica Blues at the time. I would have told him the title track singed my eyebrows and threw me into convulsions.