Archie Shepp: Activist of the Avant-Garde
Archie Shepp is a tenor saxophonist and composer who's spent over half a century contributing to the evolution of Black music. Shepp has long fought for Black musicians to get their fair share of credit, recognition and recompense for their contributions to popular music. Shepp's been considered a leader of avant-garde jazz since the 60's. He's famously played alongside John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, and the great free jazz pianist, Cecil Taylor. But 84-year-old Shepp doesn’t consider the music he plays jazz at all. He calls it “African American music” to acknowledge the Black Americans who created the tradition.
On today’s episode, Justin Richmond talks to Archie Shepp about how an assignment he received in the third grade sparked the activism that's been ever present in his 60-year career. Shepp also talks about his relationship with Coltrane, who he says never took his horn out of his mouth. And he also recalls the rhetorical power of Malcolm X and the lasting image of seeing him speak to a sea of black heads on the streets of Harlem.
Check out a playlist of our favorite Archie Shepp tracks HERE.