Archie Shepp

Hungarian Bebop

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This summit meeting between the Hungarian saxophonist and composer Milhaly Dresch and avant-jazz elder statesman Archie Shepp is an interesting and frequently beautiful experiment that demonstrates both how gracefully Shepp is aging and how fully developed the jazz scene is in that former Soviet satellite country. The mostly pianoless arrangements (which feature violin and, in one case, a cimbalom) recall the harmolodic excursions of Shepp's old boss, Ornette Coleman, but without Coleman's willful harmonic chaos. On the contrary, these are well-crafted compositions, all but one written by Dresch, and they give the players plenty of structural support on which to base their sometimes wide-ranging improvisations. Highlights include "Buzai Song" (which is based on a Hungarian folk tune and features some stunning duo improvisation between the two saxophonists) and the playful "Hungarian Bebop," which is only vaguely bop-flavored but shares bebop's flavor of complex but high-spirited fun. Recommended.

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