2023 reissue, 12″ LP, Verve Records/Impulse!/UMG.
Jazz saxophonist and playwright Archie Shepp was a cornerstone of what was considered ‘avant-garde’ jazz in his day. He was also a civil rights activist of implied yet huge proportions, having once accused the establishment of creating a “plantation of the mind”. This also reflected in his music. Vocally critical of genre boundaries, ‘Kwanza’ exemplifies his stance, with the music contained on the record an upbeat and joyous foray through a kind of party jazz that, though it is fun, doesn’t simply encourage you not to think about your predicament. Released five years after its original recording sessions, this is an important slice of history, well deserving of its reissue. – Juno