Live: Hear the Sound (Archieball)

Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra

Released November 5, 2013

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2015




On September 9,1971, a riot broke out in Attica Prison, New York State, and quickly spread. Five days later the prison was re-taken by force and 39 people were left dead: 29 prisoners and 10 hostages. At first, the administration tried to blame the guards’ deaths on the rioters, before being forced to renege.
In January 1972, Archie Shepp recorded the album Attica Blues in tribute to this rebellion. After the original and the repeat performance at the Palais des Glaces in 1979 of his Attica Blues Orchestra, Archie Shepp in 2012 revived this fantastic ensemble, together with a brilliant and dynamic collective of performers. It is an orchestra which transcends styles and epochs. The band is international in scope, combining the extraordinary abilities of great American artists such as: Amina Claudine Myers, Famoudou Don Moye, Ambrose Akinmusire and Reggie Washington, with an array of some of the brightest stars on the European horizon – a 26-piece orchestra which emits a unique generational and cultural ambiance.

Track Listing:

1. Attica Blues (William G. Harris / Archie Shepp) 8:02

2. Arms (Amina Claudine Myers) 7:31

3. Blues For Brother G. Jackson (Archie Shepp) 6:56

4. Come Sunday (Duke Ellington) 6:36

5. The Cry of My People (Cal Massey) 6:53

6. Quiet Dawn (Cal Massey) 9:12

7. Déjà Vu (Archie Shepp) 5:48

8. Steam (Archie Shepp) 5:41

9. Goodbye Sweet Pop’s (Cal Massey) 8:15

10. Ballad For a Child (William G. Harris / Archie Shepp) 5:04

11. Mama Too Tight (Archie Shepp) 7:03


Archie Shepp: tenor and soprano saxophones, voice

Jimmy Owens: conductor

Amina Claudine Myers: piano, voice

Tom McClung: piano

Famoudou Don Moye: drums, congas

Reggie Washington: bass

Pierre Durand: guitar

Stéphane Belmondo: trumpet

Izidor Leitinger: trumpet

Christophe Leloil: trumpet

Olivier Miconi: trumpet

Sébastien Llado: trombone

Simon Sieger: trombone

Romain Morello: trombone

Michaël Ballue: trombone

Raphaël Imbert: alto saxophone

Olivier Chaussade: alto saxophone

François Théberge: tenor saxophone

Virgile Lefebvre: tenor saxophone

Jean-Philippe Scali: baritone saxophone

Manon Tenoudji: violin

Steve Duong: violin

Antoine Carlier: viola

Louise Rosbach: cello

Marion Rampal: voice

Cécile McLorin Salvant: voice

Darryl Hall: bass (5)

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (5)

Jean-Claude André: conductor (5)

Recorded September 9, 2012, at the Jazz à La Villette Festival, June 14, 2013, at CNCDC de Châteauvallon and on June17, 2013, at Les Nuits de Fourvière Festival.

Executive Producer: Laure Le Vavasseur

Live Sound Engineers: Guillaume Dulac, Jean-Louis Nathan

Mixing Raphaël Allain

Mastering: Raphaël Jonin

Drawing: Wozniak


Recorded in France in 2012 and 2013, I Hear the Sound is a live recording of saxophonist Archie Shepp’s oratorio, “Attica Blues,” co-written and arranged with Cal Massey in 1971, which was first heard on an Impulse! album a year later. Most of that album, Attica Blues, is revisited, with some adjustments to the running order of the tunes. In addition, Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” is woven into the middle of the suite, and Shepp’s “Mama Too Tight,” the title track of a 1967 Impulse! album, serves as a coda. 
The background: On September 9, 1971, a riot broke out in the State Correctional Facility in Attica, New York State. For five days, a large group of prisoners controlled part of the prison, where they held thirty-three guards and civilian staff hostage. On September 13, the prison was retaken by force. Thirty-nine people were killed: twenty-nine prisoners and ten hostages, all of them shot by guards and troopers. 
Shepp recorded Attica Blues in response and tribute to the rebellion. The oratorio, which is drenched in the blues, is a nuanced work that, characteristically for Shepp, embodies as much prettily lyrical intimacy as it does raging, righteous anger. The libretto is sung by Shepp and Amina Claudine Myers. 
I Hear the Sound uses an orchestra of approximately the same size as that on Attica Blues. There is an American core—pianist Myers, drummer and percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, bassist Reggie Washington, pianist Tom McLung and (on one track) trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire—with mainly-French horn and string sections. It is a terrific ensemble, well conducted by Jimmy Owens, who first worked with Shepp, as a trumpeter, in the 1960s. 

“Attica Blues” is an important part of African-American jazz history and it is revisited here with conviction. Still musically compelling and still, sadly, socially relevant.

Chris May (All About Jazz)