A great album here from 60's free-ish/hard bop sax player Archie Shepp and his cohorts. "Fire Music" was recorded in '65 with Mingus trumpeter Ted Curson, Marion Brown on Alto sax etc in a fine lp of playful, free-ish jazz that any fans of Mingus,Dolphy or Ornette Coleman would easily tune into. personal faves are opener "Hambone" and "Los Olvidados" (featured on the Impulse records "House that Trane built" compilation - also reviewed). the spoken intro exhortations of "Malcom,Malcom,Semper Malcom" intones (in the spirit of the Last Poets) + all these years later reminds the listener of the struggle of Afro-americans back then 60's Shepp + cophorts were so passionately involved in. "Fire Music" is a fine place to start your Archie Shepp collection , as is "the Impulse Story" CD collection which includes two tracks from Fire Music there but also includes a slightly wider range of styles that include tracks from "Four for Trane" + "Attica Blues" - two other highly regarded 60's Shepp LP s. Shepp's releases from his Paris sojourn in 1969 on the Actuel label are also well worth checking out for further exploratory , exciting Shepp + cohorts.
So - fine fiery horn playing, loose limbed drumming and above all playful intensity with rhythmic section / horn ebb+flow. There's nothing here as intense as Coltrane's larger ensemble landmark "Ascension" or "Free Music", but like Ornette's music - the sound of FREEDOM in the face of adverse conditions.
more essential jazz, far removed from the bland neo-bop of recent years from some of the new guard.
The 60's avant garde, reviewed through the eyes of the 21st century middle-class, as challenging as ever, complex and demanding, fire music in its truest sense, yet a thousand miles away from the people this music was intended for. The Blues, the fire of the music and the spoken word make this album what it is, namely another milestone by this remarkable artist, a creation that should, but never will, inspire enough people to break out of their-three-minute-singalong-middle-of-the-road-tabloid-press little world.