Archie Shepp: Hambone (live)
Archie Shepp (tenor sax)
Fire Music (Universal International 9092)
Virgil Jones (trumpet), Ashley Fennell (trombone), Fred Pirtle (baritone sax), Reggie Johnson (bass), Roger Blank (drums).
Composed by Archie Shepp.
Recorded: live at the Village Gate, New York, March 28, 1965
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
For all you city slickers, "hamboning" is a down-home name for the ancient art of slapping certain body parts as a substitute for drumming. (Honest, Ma, I wasn't doing what you think—I was hamboning!) Here, Archie Shepp hambones live at a landmark 1965 Black Militant benefit concert that might've been billed as Uncle Tom's Exorcism. "These men are dangerous," warned the original liner notes, invoking witchdoctors, juju men, nighttime Mau Mau attacks, and music that "speaks of horrible and frightening things." Although Shepp's playing, speaking of horrible and frightening things, is more commandingly cathartic than actor Max von Sydow's Father Merrin, the exorcism failed. Uncle Tom bedevils us still.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz