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Archie Shepp

(b1937- )

 At various times in his long career, saxophonist, composer, playwright, and educator Archie Shepp has been regarded as a musical firebrand, cultural radical, soulful throwback to the jazz tradition, contemplative veteran explorer, and global jazz statesman. During the ’60s, he was viewed as possibly the most articulate and intense member of the free jazz generation, issuing records such as Fire Music, The Way Ahead, and The Magic of Ju-Ju to speak hard truths about social injustice and the anger he felt. His tenor sax solos are searing, harsh, and unrelenting, played with a vivid intensity.

Shepp is an extraordinary jazz mind. His music is full of surprises, left turns and deeply moving argument. 

Simultaneously, Shepp has pursued a literary career, composing essays linking free jazz to Black militancy; reading his own poetry on recordings; and writing plays, including Junebug Graduates Tonight (1967).Throughout his years as a university professor and well afterward, Shepp continued to release new material, including Left Alone Revisited (2005), a tribute with pianist Mal Waldron to jazz singer Billie Holiday; Wo!man (2011), an album of duets with German pianist Joachim Kühn; and Ocean Bridges (2020), which incorporated rap and hip-hop. The National Endowment for the Arts named Shepp a Jazz Master in 2016.

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