I got the feeling that's something's goin' wrong
And I'm worried bout the human soul
I've got a feeling
If I could have had the chance to make the decision
Every man could walk this earth on equal condition
Every child could do more than just dream of a star
Bringing voices to a world that's gettin' old...
Do I worry do I worry yes I worry 'bout the human soul, yeah...
I hear voices, I see people
I hear voices, I see people
I hear voices of many people, sayin'
Everything ain't everything
Only when nature doesn't take its natural toll, am I worried for the human soul.
Some people think that they are in their rights and on command to take a black
man's life. But let me give a rundown on how I feel. If it ain't natural, then it
ain't real. I wish i were better.
Almost half a century ago, Henry Hull, Albertine Robinson and Joshie Armstead sang and William Kunstler spoke Beaver Harris' words on Archie Shepp's 1972 Impulse! album Attica Blues. Speaking about the current state of American racial strife, Shepp (On The Cover), who has been thinking about this weighty topic his whole life, is bleak in his assessment: "We were protesting then just as we are now and the amazing thing is that things have changed so little." In this month's cover story, the legendary saxophonist, 83 years old but with no loss of wisdom and fire, provides much needed perspective to a problem that has never seen linear progress. His words are powerful as are those of the myriad others who have spoken on the topic and fought for the cause. But just as powerful and resilient have been their opponents, as is evident in that Shepp's fight and that of his relatives, heirs and fellow human beings is far from over.
On the Cover: ARCHIE SHEPP
By Kyle Oleksiuk; photos by John Rogers
Although Ocean Bridges represents his first performance on a hip-hop album, tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp is no stranger to rap. "I feel like one of the godfathers of rap," Shepp says, "because I started to do this kind of thing back in the '60s, along with groups like The Last Poets. I infused my work with poems and statements, which were primarily at that time political… When I first started recording music, I was very accessible to the spoken word as an important adjunct to music." In the decades since, his convictions on the relationship between music and language, particularly African American language, have only increased.
Interview: SHABAKA HUTCHINGS
By John Sharpe; photo by Adrien H. Tillmann
As the first UK signing to Impulse!, British-Barbadian saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings has become a figurehead for the breakout London scene. His activity is as relentless as his music is visceral. Sons of Kemet rides a torrent of African-Caribbean-influenced rhythm, The Comet Is Coming fuses trance, AfroBeat and electronica and latest vehicle Shabaka And The Ancestors, with a young South African crew, wades deep into spiritual jazz with diversions into Township grooves. But a broad hinterland also taking in free improvisation and guest spots with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra Arkestra ensures that Hutchings brings nuance to festival stages worldwide. Hutchings plays SummerStage Anywhere Aug. 8th. For more information, visit cityparksfoundation.org/events/shabaka-hutchings.
From the opening strains of Spirituals (Unseen Rain), the latest release by Hilliard Greene, the listener is compelled by something very new, but also eternally old. And in any case, utterly vital. The bassist's second venture into solo bass recordings couldn't have come at a better time. "It was important for me to record these pieces, largely a set of Negro Spirituals, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement," Greene explained. "I haven't always taken part in the protests, so I needed for my voice to be heard." Greene is scheduled to play solo at 440Gallery Aug. 22nd.
Encore: ALVIN QUEEN
By Jim Motavalli
Drummer Alvin Queen, born in the Bronx 70 years ago this month, is a great storyteller and so what if many of his compelling stories are from before he settled permanently in Europe circa 1979? As he enjoys his Swiss government pension and takes long walks in the Alps, he has no regrets about leaving the American cauldron behind.
Lest We Forget: FRANK LOWE
By Anders Griffen
Frank Lowe was a tenor saxophonist known for his fiery sound and fierce conviction in the post-John Coltrane wave of free jazz improvisers.
Record Label Spotlight: MAHAKALA
By George Grella
The outskirts of Hot Spring, Arkansas are not usually associated with jazz, much less free jazz. But that is the home of saxophonist Chad Fowler, who is also the founder of Mahakala Music, a record label that debuted last year and focuses on the free end of the contemporary scene.
Glenn Zaleski—The Question Sunnyside
Mal Waldron—Free at Last ECM
John Fedchock—Into the Shadows Summit
I Compani—Fellini 100 - I Compani 35 icDisc
Maria Schneider—Data Lords ArtistShare
Mulgrew Miller/Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen—The Duo: Duke Ellington 100 Storyville
Ville Herrala—Pu: WE Jazz
Jorge Roeder—El Suelo Mío s/r
Jošt Drašler—The Balloon Catcher Sploh
Martial Solal/Dave Liebman—Masters in Paris Sunnyside
Adam Rudolph/Ralph M. Jones/Hamid Drake—Imaginary Archipelago Meta