Archie Shepp - Art Songs and Spirituals + Red Circle

LONDON Barbican
Silk Street


One of the most articulate and original voices to emerge from the maelstrom of jazz as it connected with the civil rights movement of the 60s, Archie Shepp enters his eighties with sustained energy and commitment.  His saxophone sound is as soulful and heartfelt as ever, and his command of a deep tradition of black culture and music is unparalled.

Art Songs and Spirituals explores this legacy in dynamic style, combining with two extraordinary talents in keyboardist / singer Amina Claudine Myers, and the charismatic Carleen Anderson, leading a specially assembled vocal group, UK Vocal Assembly, featuring Cleveland Watkiss, Beverley Skeete, Marion Rampal, Gina Foster, Sylvia Mason-James, Janet Ramus, Gail Evans and Daniel Thomas - augmented by a powerful band that features the great drummer Hamid Drake.

Archie Shepp's last Festival appearance, revisiting his classic album Attica Blues, raised the roof of a packed Barbican in 2013. Art Songs and Spirituals reveals yet another dimension of a key figure in the evolution of jazz in the modern world.

Opening, Simon Purcell’s Red Circle unites with special guest vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, rekindling a jazz partnership reaching back to the London jazz scene of the 80s, with Chris Batchelor, Julian Seigel, Steve Watts and Gene Calderazzo.

  • ‘ Shepp's fusion of defiant and tender singing and his emotional tenor-sax tone brought the EFG London Jazz Festival to a rousing end ’
    (★★★★☆ Guardian)
  • ‘ Red Circle - an expansive, clever record. The thoughtful intricate themes are mysteriously inviting, organically accommodating the players' characterful contributions. Purcell leads and plays with a benign wisdom. ’
    (★★★★ MOJO Album of the Year list)

A rare treat this one - the free-jazz pioneer joining forces with some of the UK’s finest musicians exploring his musical output at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and what better place to see it than the best auditorium in London…?

(Tim Garcia at Jazz FM)