Archie Shepp – The Magic of Ju-Ju

Arschie Shepp the magic of ju-ju_ed

Another divine relic of Freejazz optimum. This preposterously passionate murrain of bone searing instability is a personal favourite & I would say an unquestionable highlight of the entire Freejazz tenure.

There’s many statements & descriptions that could be allocated but loud, relentless & extreme are perhaps the most primarily pertinent adjectives. Of course a lot of Freejazz could claim that vignette, but many exceptions render this episode to a more distinguished status. Starting with the sound, the sax gets special treatment, it’s very orotund, brash & clear, probably with it’s own mic whilst everything else is going through an overhead? Shepp is loud, slightly distorting through an Alto, the low notes getting especially obstreperous. Anyone with a preference for dirt, roughness & vagrancy will be right at home. Shepp’s style? It’s pretty much pure improvised hysteria, a rant, tirade of the most asperse labile frantic extended objurgations, ceaseless tearing tautological traversement & stinging seizure inducing prolonged-pummelling. No bass solo, no drum solo, no remission, no cover & no prevarication to getting straight into it. The title track, The Magic Of Ju-Ju, an 18 minute thermo-dissident meltdown springs with a fast cow-bell or percussion-triangle rhythm & talking-drum pulse & Shepp’s voracious vigour hit’s on about the sixth second, & there is no looking back basically. The guy just goes off.. clonus excoriating mantics from the wilderness, all rappelling with immense rapidity, just raining down coruscating & jactitating with uncontrolled exuberance. Shepp’s major distinction for me is his remorselessness, his extended extremity, his convulsive & chaotic consistency. i don’t really recollect anybody else elongating the spasms for that long at such a fervency/hysteria. Stupendously fast, tireless screaming & highfalutin superfluity without pause. The Torikoswashi assumption is completely apposite, & I think anyone into Noisecore or any of the genres that concentrate on an exclusive temperature reserve of intensity & consecutive uninterrupted clarion will adore this as it’s pure smash your face in kids! in terms of pure stamina/presence & I even feel perhaps passion I think Shepp may have the crown. This no doubt derivates in part from his activism & staunch political philosophy, which actually often went beyond the safety parameter & had a depth & magnitude synonymous with the best of the 60’s backlash. He’s angrier than most, the indignation & revulsion at the worlds ill’s explodes in pure purgative profusion, it’s like an exorcism, the expulsion & extirpation of negative forces.

Ah’ the first track, I lost my target there ^ ^ , as with a lot of Shepp’s Freejazz period, the rest of the band are really the canvas for his ritual (generally dbl bass, trumpet & flugelhorn or Trombone, drums & percussion), they’re vital & brilliant but definitely back bench, & for this episode that seems apt. The drums Tumble & Swing, the bass just rolls around without direction or gender (some bowing is also presented)…I think the guy hasn’t really got a hold & may well be intimidated by the spirits summoned. No matter, it’s complete fucking chaos really, & who would have it any other way? The stridency & ardour of Shepp & the consistency of the cowbells (the talking drums have by now drowned or been consumed & evaporated by the possession) do set it apart from the many’ many vague/fumbled Feejazz spack-storms though. Something seismic is present here & it has a quality or success that I wont relate at all to most of the Blowouts. Right at the very end of the track, perhaps to retrieve Shepp from the spirit world less the shaman be lost, they all converge on a standard pattern & bring the epic to a close.

The second side starts with a really boring song that thankfully only lasts a minute or so. Shepp reverts to his earlier Bop/& Bluesy Jazz for a brusque opener. Then it’s onto Shazam, another more traditional Jazz track, expertly upgraded by it’s fast tempo & Shepp just ripping it to fuck over the top, another signature of his to force a duplexity of traditional Jazz with withering suppression fire Off-Road sax scramblings. That’s two out of three so far. The final gallivant is the superb “Sorry Bout’ That”… perhaps alluding to Nam slang for getting your legs blown off by the soldier in front of you triggering a booby-trap/land-mine?! It’s got a classic slow deeply Bluesy four sectioned loop & of course after a minute or so Shepp has to get psychotic & before you know it the whole track is being torn apart without losing it’s skeleton as more irregular hyper palpitations are ricocheting off every surface. The drums also start going ape-shit, but they also, in tandem with Shepp, keep referring back to the original track almost like some kind of parody or damaged palimpsest. It’s bliss & reminds me distinctly of many Noyzcore bands that juxtapose conventional or even deliberately lachrymose or staid music with the inevitable blast-ghaaar though this, both at the same time, or “inebriated version of” is even more novel.

This albums a fucking classic! Thankfully it’s acknowledged as one & is still available thanks to the Japanese on import only koz’ some record company synod is to busy sucking shit-shake. Wonderfully the sleeve mirrors the marvel with one of the best covers of the period. You can’t do without this joint in the arsenal.

LABEL: Impulse!

REKD: 1967


UPDATE: The Magic Of Ju-Ju has recently been repressed on a wonderful 180gram vinyl edition with all the original artwork having had extra restoration or a slightly higher resolution print for added clarity (loox good). Life At The Donaueschingen Music Festival has also been reissued with the same statistics. I dusted my azz down wit a copy & good gosh it sounds/loox great against th original. both have been reissued under/by “Universal Music-Special Markets”…ha ha, dirty powers doin’ dope delectations, at least somebody has put this face-singeing god-squabble back on th slab & any rekad shop worth shit will have them waiting 4 yu. Git busy!!!