Archie Shepp & Jason Moran, "Let My People Go" (Archieball)
The same attributes that make pianist Moran one of the most visionary and inventive artists in modern jazz — his expansive interests, perceptive ears and audacious imaginative leaps — also make him an ideal collaborator. Witness this outing with legendary saxophonist Shepp, a soul-stirring session of classic spirituals and jazz standards.
Shepp, 83, one of the defining jazz voices of the 1960s, may no longer summon the full ferocity of his "Fire Music" past, but what remains is undeniably powerful in its rough-hewed eloquence. His once-overwhelming sound is now laced with crags and rasps, as he conjures a breathy, strained tone that is even more compelling for its imperfections. That's also true of the gravelly baritone he uses to achingly recite lyrics. Moran, 46, accompanies Shepp's keening wails with a serrated lyricism, undergirded by ominous thunder.
The two imbue jazz classics like Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" and John Coltrane's "Wise One" with a solemn reverence that doesn't break the spell cast by deeply felt renditions of "Go Down Moses" and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." These intimate, moving performances capture the soulful lament and uplift of those songs while inevitably reflecting on their relevance to our times.
shaun brady, Philadelphia Inquirer
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "New Fragility" (CYHSY)
Alec Ounsworth's voice threatens to overshadow everything else in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It's an acquired taste, sometimes piercing, sometimes bleating, sometimes tender, always anxious. But it can also be thrilling when he leans into it with abandon or when he rushes syllables with nervous energy, as he does on CYHSY's sixth album.
It's the most consistent set of songs yet from Ounsworth, the sole constant in CYHSY. The dichotomies — the edgy vocals and the subtle music, the upbeat hooks and downbeat lyrics — make "New Fragility" fascinating and rewarding.
steve klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer
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