Archie Shepp - The New York Contemporary Five
  • 01 Cisum
  • 02 Crepuscule With Nellie
  • 03 O. C.
  • 04 When Will The Blues Leave
  • 05 Funeral
  • 06 Mik
  • 01 Cisum
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (11:06) [25.4 MB]
  • 02 Crepuscule With Nellie
    Genre: (Choose a Genre)
    MP3 (02:14) [5.13 MB]
  • 03 O. C.
    Genre: (Choose a Genre)
    MP3 (06:35) [15.07 MB]
  • 04 When Will The Blues Leave
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (08:50) [20.24 MB]
  • 05 Funeral
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (04:59) [11.41 MB]
  • 06 Mik
    Genre: Jazz
    MP3 (07:32) [17.24 MB]
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Archie Shepp – The New York Contemporary Five
Delmark DE 409
Compact Disc (2010)

Ever since he burst on the scene in the late 60s Archie Shepp has been recognized as one of the great avant-garde jazz artists of all time. The New York Contemporary Five are Archie Shepp, tenor sax; John Tchicai, alto sax; Don Cherry, cornet; Don Moore, bass; J.C. Moses, drums.
Recorded November 11, 1963 at Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen.

Features six compositions: “Cisum”, “Crepuscule With Nellie”, “O.C.”, “When Will The Blues Leave”, “The Funeral” and “Mik”. “Since this was a recording of a performance, one is treated to a display of raw, highly emotional music. At turns the music is powerful, imperfect, moving, irritating – but always alive and distinctly human.” –Cadence.

1 Cisum (Don Cherry) 11:10
2 Crepuscule With Nellie (Thelonious Monk) 2:05
3 O.C. (Ornette Coleman) 6:40
4 When Will The Blues Leave (Ornette Coleman) 9:00
5 Funeral (Archie Shepp) 5:05
6 Mik (John Tchicai) 7:30

Archie Shepp - Tenor Saxophone
Don Cherry - trumpet
John Tchicai - alto saxophone
Don Moore - bass
J.C. Moses - drums
Arranged By – Bill Dixon (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 6)

Recorded November 11, 1963, Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen
© ℗ 2010 Delmark Records

The New York Contemporary Five represents an important step in the evolution of the new jazz. It is relevant both to the extension of ensemble style, and to the development of its key musicians, who rank amongst the most creative of the present generation. With only one half album available in the United States, the group is sadly unknown to a larger part of the jazz audience, although the further explorations of the New York Art Quartet and the various Archie Shepp ensembles stem directly from its consolidation of the innovatory principles of the early sixties. In time its historic role will become clear - for the moment it is important to hear the work of this ensemble directly as living music.
The origins of the NYC5 may be found in the school of second generation avant garde musicians who were reforming their music in New York during the early sixties. These men, already dissatisfied with the possibilities of the dominant hard bop style, were subjected to the powerful, liberating art of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman. Specifically the NYC5 was the outcome of a musical alliance centering on trumpeter-composer Bill Dixon and tenorist Archie Shepp. In fact the music of the NYC5 is a fusion of talents extending beyond the personnel listed on this sleeve. Bill Dixon and trombonist Roswell Rudd, later of the New York Art Quartet and the Archie Shepp groups, contributed much of the writing, and Don Cherry of course brought with him a number of Ornette Coleman lines, including the previously unrecorded "O.C." Another aspect of the group's heritage is revealed by its attention to Thelonious Monk compositions.
The NYC5 was a cooperative unit, a rare phenomenon in the egotistical world of current jazz economics, and one cannot fairly state that one horn demands more attention than another. But the existence of the group provided valuable opportunities for the individual to attain further levels of maturity.
In terms of the new music, trumpeter Don Cherry was clearly the most experienced. Present at the crucial experiments of Ornette Coleman and drummer Ed Blackwell on the West Coast in the second half of the fifties. Cherry had played on Coleman's recordings from 1958 to 1961. Despite the innovatory approach to the horn and his near complete individuality, even on the earliest recordings, he was to some extent overshadowed by the maturity and startling expressive power of Coleman's music. By late 1963 however his experiences outside the Coleman quartet, notably with Sonny Rollins, had allowed him pause to sense the direction of his own playing style. Here the stabbing notes, the pointillist construction interspersed with abrasive asymmetries achieve a new coherence. The artist has more control of himself and his materials, and the communication breaks are reduced, with an increased emotional impact. Several of his solos are amongst the best things on the album and point toward his further achievements with Albert Ayler and his own groups. He plays a battered Civil War cornet on these recordings.
Archie Shepp, like Cherry, is an essentially romantic artist though more ebullient and less lyrical than the trumpeter. At the time of these recordings Shepp had not achieved the recognition which now makes him the best known of the second generation musicians. He had however arrived at the level of maturity that characterizes his best work and in the context of the NYC5 his virile improvisations are shorn of any tendency to self-indulgence. As English critic Jack Cooke has pointed out, the NYC5 period is a formative stage in Shepp's career, a period in which he not only met the challenge of equal soloists but also increased his organizational and compositional range.
With a modicum of popularity Shepp's biography has become well documented but several salient points are perhaps worth reconsideration. Born in Florida, he began to play saxophone in Philadelphia, where he worked along with trumpeter Lee Morgan in an r-and-b band. Moving to New York in 1959, he formed a friendship with John Coltrane, who later lent support in Shepp's struggle for recognition, and joined Cecil Taylor with whom he had his first recordings. Those 1960 performances with Taylor reveal a rich-toned tenor sound, and a mind decidedly in search of new means of expression, if still uncertain of its own voice. On later recordings with Bill Dixon (1962) a strong, often angry voice is heard, a highly personal extension of a Rollins-based style - despite Shepp's admiration for Coltrane, his melodic and rhythmic imagination has much more in common with Sonny (witness "Cisum" on the present album). The NYC5 performances reveal an expanded vision and predict the creative eclecticism of his recent work. Archie Shepp has gathered elements from a broad spectrum of jazz styles, from r-and-b, through the warm sonorities of Ben Webster and the Ellington band, up to the highly charged structures of the Cecil Taylor unit, and has justified their amalgamation by the individuality and communicative force of his music.
In contrast to the other horns John Tchicai's alto was a newcomer to recording (apart from a performance taped at the 1961 Polish jazz festival), and it is of no little significance that the altoist easily holds his own in the solo sequences. Yielding no ground to the Americans, his bare, odd-slanting lines ("metal poems" as Leroi Jones has written) and cool thinking provide a superb foil to the more obviously emotional qualities of cornet and tenor. Erik Wiedemann has noted that the Danish born Tchicai was the center of controversy amongst local jazz musicians before leaving for New York in late 1962. It was his association with Shepp and Dixon in New York that led to the Jazzhus Montmartre engagement and therefore the NYC5 as a functioning jazz unit. While the collaboration with the American musicians may have strengthened his dedication to the new music, his personality had already been molded in an highly distinctive way. The ubiquitous influence of Charlie Parker is there but modified by the deep mark made by the expressive reticence of altoist Lee Konitz, the first saxophonist to realize that Bird's artistry could lead to something other than conventional bebop. More forthright than Konitz, Tchicai has carried the art of oblique expressionism forward into the new jazz forms.
America is not generous to its artists, certainly not to its most characteristic artists; it would be difficult to find a group more adept than the jazz avant garde in the description of the here and now. Recognition has been more forthcoming in Europe; Europe welcomes Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor et al., and discovers Albert Ayler and the impressive unit heard on this album. The question left unanswered here is . . .why? Hopefully times are changing.
-Terry Martin, 1967

1. Cisum 11:10 (Don Cherry, Eternal River Publ. Co., BMI)
2. Crepuscule With Nellie 2:05 (Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Music Corp., BMI)
3. O.C. 6:40 (Ornette Coleman)
4. When Will the Blues Leave 9:00 (Ornette Coleman, Fantasy Inc., ASCAP)
5. The Funeral 5:05 (Archie Shepp, Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc, BMI)
6. Mik 7:30 (John Tchicai)
  • Members:
    Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, Don Moore, J.C. Moses, John Tchicai
  • Sounds Like:
    free jazz
  • Influences:
    free jazz
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  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/17/23 22:48:17

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