Archie Shepp: Phat Jam in Milano (3 stars)

Archie Shepp: Phat Jam in Milano

Saxophonist Archie Shepp has a long history of issuing rather uneven albums, and this latest live set falls into that category. His previous disc featured contributions from Chuck D, and this time around he has rapper and human beat box Napoleon Maddox fronting the band. While you can’t fault the sentiment, some of his anti-Bush state-of-America raps are more than a little hackneyed, and Shepp’s own vocal contributions don’t raise the ante much.

The saxophonist does dig in on his instrument though, and with alto saxophonist Oliver Lake and the mighty Hamid Drake on drums also onboard, there are plenty of striking moments when the vocals are not centre stage. The disc was recorded live in Milan in late 2007 with a band that also features bassist Joe Fonda and young saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum.



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