Archie Shepp / Bill Dixon Quartet - Archie Shepp / Bill Dixon Quartet (1963), 7/10

A supremely talented set of musicians provide a sensational and delightful response to Ornette Coleman’s revolutionary The Shape of Jazz to Come and Free Jazz. Apart from their directly borrowed “Peace”, of which I personally vastly prefer the original, and the floating, swaying “Somewhere” this is a wonderfully forward-thinking recording hosting some excellent instances of free improvisation and modal jazz. Dixon’s compositions when met with this particular set of quartets featuring the raw but wonderfully talented Shepp on saxophone reach heights previously unheard by this style of music outside of Coleman’s recordings. The opener in “Trio” is perhaps the highlight of the record from both an entertainment and a complexity standpoint, combining more twists and turns with technical prowess than the rest. Other than its inherently impressive freedom and technical performance, it would also foreshadow some of Dixon’s compositional capabilities along with Shepp’s eccentricities that they would both explore over the years with great success. Both of their individual musical personalities are able to shine completely unfettered and even supported by those of their counterpart in conjunction with an impressively solid and foundational rhythm section, especially in tracks like “Trio” and “Quartet” that show true freedom in their individual performances and grander ideals. While they would explore more untouched ground later on when they had a matured perspective on jazz and creative music, this is an incredibly outstanding place to start and one of the most important pieces of responsive, creative progression in the early sixties. I originally believed the French BYG pressing re-titled as Peace hosted a superior track order as opposed to the original Archie Shepp / Bill Dixon Quartet but I now think the track order is unimportant, the songs still have the same effect, one of unbridled joy in performance and even enchanting pageantry.