Archie Shepp-Horace Parlan: Go Down Moses

Archie Shepp is no stranger to the duo, having performed/recorded in direct dialogue with Max Roach, Charlie Haden, Dollar Brand, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, and Richard Davis, among others, throughout his career. His most common duet partner, though, was pianist Horace Parlan, and this groundbreaking 1977 duet performance, consisting entirely of spirituals and black folk songs, represents a career highlight for both players. While the song formula from track to track here is fairly static, with Shepp stating the melody and building to a primal climax, the exclusivity of the project, the eloquence of Parlan's support, and Shepp's heart-rendering deliveries yield an intensely affecting listening experience from beginning to end. As with only the best music, "Go Down Moses" has such emotional depth that it's up to the listener to discern whether sorrow or splendor ultimately reign here. It's not an easy task, perhaps because Shepp was pondering just that during his performance, of which he once said: "I was afraid for a moment that I wouldn't be able to make the recording because I felt so full, so full of tears." The most forceful of jazz tracks.

October 13, 2009 · 0 comments


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