Archie Shepp. Edinburgh, August 2012.

After ten nights at the jazz festival, the next bit of culture I went to was… a jazz gig! This was a one-off gig at Summerhall, opening their Fringe festival programme – though the rest of the fringe hadn’t kicked off by then. Summerhall used to be the veterinary school, and the main space was formerly the dissection lecture hall. Former firebrand Archie Shepp has mellowed slightly, his music solidly based in the blues and much more accessible than his free-playing from the 1960s and 1970s. Playing both soprano and tenor, and with just Tom McClung on piano in support, Shepp played a couple of great sets in front of a very appreciative audience. This music felt rooted in the tradition – Shepp played a couple of Ellington numbers – but also completely modern. McClung’s piano was unobtusive but solid, and he too summoned up the spirit of McCoy Tyner at times.

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