Archie SHEPP – Black Ballads 1992

Archie SHEPP – Black Ballads 1992
Recorded on January 13th. 1992, at at Studio 44, Monster, Holland.


In a nutshell, this recording is a treasure. Tenor sax legend Archie Shepp is joined by one of his favorite collaborators, pianist Horace Parlan, in an terrific set of classic jazz ballads, plus two well-chosen Shepp compositions.

Shepp has been a major figure in the jazz world for over 45 years. He appears on John Coltrane’s Ascension (1965), and recorded an astonishing series of albums under his own name for Impulse in the Sixties and early Seventies. He was an avant gardist who created some of the most adventurous jazz of the post-Coltrane era, music that remains challenging and progressive today.

On Black Ballads, Shepp finds new meaning in these old standards, and he hasn’t sounded this inspired in years. The sometimes sour, disengaged playing that marred some of Shepp’s Eighties recordings is not in evidence. His tone is as beautiful as it has ever been, and his abilities as an improviser are undiminished.

The contribution of Horace Parlan cannot be overlooked. An underrated and often overlooked pianist, who has lived in Europe for over thirty years, Parlan is a sympathetic accompaniest with strong gospel and r&b roots, and he demonstrates an uncanny ability to listen closely to Shepp and offer the perfect support and counterpoint to the saxophonist.

Recorded in 1992, Black Ballads is a pleasant surprise that shows the 64-year-old Archie Shepp in full command of his abilities. Highly recommended.
By Ron Frankl.
Horace Parlan has overcome physical disability and thrived as a pianist despite it. His right hand was partially crippled by polio in his childhood, but Parlan’s made frenetic, highly rhythmic right hand phrases part of his characteristic style, contrasting them with striking left-hand chords. He’s also infused blues and R&B influences into his style, playing in a stark, sometimes somber fashion. Parlan has always cited Ahmad Jamal and Bud Powell as prime influences. He began playing in R&B bands during the ’50s, joining Charles Mingus’ group from 1957 to 1959 following a move from Pittsburgh to New York. Mingus aided his career enormously, both through his recordings and his influence. Parlan played with Booker Ervin in 1960 and 1961, then in the Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis-Johnny Griffin quintet in 1962. Parlan played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk from 1963 to 1966, and had a strong series of Blue Note recordings in the ’60s. He left America for Copenhagen in 1973, and gained international recognition for some stunning albums on Steeplechase, including a pair of superb duet sessions with Archie Shepp. He also recorded with Dexter Gordon, Red Mitchell, and in the ’80s Frank Foster and Michal Urbaniak. He also has recorded extensively for SteepleChase, Enja, and Timeless.
By Ron Wynn, Rovi.
Archie Shepp- Tenor and Alto Sax
Horace Parlan- Piano
Wayne Dockery- Bass
Steve McRaven- Drums
01.Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans (7.11)
02.I Know About The Life (5.20)
03.Georgia On My Mind (4.58)
04.Embraceable You (4.41)
05.Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (5.18)
06.How Deep Is The Ocean (5.25)
07.Lush Life (8.33)
08.Déjà Vu (5.08)
09.Angel Eyes (7.56)
10.All To Soon (5.55)
11.Ain’t Misbehavin'(5.16).

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