Shepp, Archie: Yasmina, A Black Woman (Coloured Vinyl LP)
Of all the African-American jazz musicians who arrived in Paris at the end of the ‘60s Saxophonist Archie Shepp was arguably the most influential. Still resident in the French capital to this day, he became an integral part of the European scene and struck fruitful working relationships with the likes of German pianist Joachim Kuhn. Shepp also recorded important albums for BYG, and Yasmina, A Black Woman is one of the most compelling from both an intellectual and musical point of view.
The title track is a praise song for a ‘soul sister’ with an Afro-Arabic name, which signals a move way from Eurocentricity or undue focus on the West. It features the kind of impassioned playing from Shepp and a band that has a number of significant figures drawn from very different scenes in the States. Saxophonist Hank Mobley and drummer Philly Joe Jones, two of the great heroes of hard bop, found themselves alongside soloists frequently associated with the avant-garde, such as pianist Dave Burrell, trumpeter Lester Bowie and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, the latter two being members of Art Ensemble Of Chicago. A supergroup was in the group.
Together all these players perform an admirably varied repertoire that reflects the interest Shepp had in the whole history of black music in America, from blues and swing through to free improvisation, as well as his increasing fascination with African rhythms as well as post-colonial politics. The result is a set that bubbles with defiant energy and also conveys a deep sense of romanticism and unabashed tenderness. 2023 marbled vinyl reissue.
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