Archie Shepp - "I Know About The Life", hathut
www.hathut.com

It's no wonder that this album was seen as somewhat of a revelation by hathut's producer Werner X. Uehlinger. After a decade of releasing less than significant albums, Archie Shepp stepped into a Toronto studio in 1981, to record this gem. Maybe the quartet on this date isn't particularly strong: strong in the sense of being able to measure up to Shepp's tenor urgency. The rhythm section, made up of bassist Santie Debriano and percussionist John Betsch make up a solid backbone, on which Shepp lays his foundation, but the sad truth is that pianist Ken Werner too often becomes muddled and drowned out in the mix. The interesting point to mention is Shepp's choice of compositions on this record. There is only one original (the title track), two Monk compositions (the almost straight reading of "Well You Needn't" and the heart-wrenching "Round Midnight"), and one truly abrasive take of Coltrane's "Giant Steps". Over all, this is quite a strong record, full of Shepp's signature schronks and squeals. One can easily argue that, though it can't measure itself along side Shepp's 60's masterpiece, "I Know About The Life" is a strong, bluesy contender.

Tom Sekowski


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