Thursday, April 22, 2010

for archie shepp (21)

for archie shepp
(1937 --

they tried to peg u, archie, then panned u when u failed
to fit their misconceptions. were u into free jazz?
were u afrocentric? an extrapolation of
r & b, perhaps? u were all of these & more – had
trane’s “sheets of sound” intensity. were just as free as
ornette from the prevailing conventions of rhythmic,
harmonic & melodic structure. u matched albert
ayler most times with yr blistering tone & savage
aggression & u flew high & funky like Illinois
jacquet. u never tried to transcend yr blackness, but
embraced it; framed yr music in african-centered
urgency & vision. a prophet is seldom known
in his own time & place -- & yr time is not yet come.

©Joseph McNair; 2010

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