Happy Birthday Archie Shepp

May 24, 1937

New Morning

Saxophonist Archie Shepp was born on May 24, 1937, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida but was raised in Philadelphia.

He began his professional career in a Latin Jazz band before joining Cecil Taylor.

A long-time association with John Coltrane led to recordings as a leader on Impulse. Shepp was part of the “Love Supreme” sessions (portions he played on were released in 2002) and Coltrane’s album “Ascension.”

Despite enrolling at Goddard College in the mid to late ’50s to study drama, he eventually turned to music.

After a period of performing with a Latin jazz ensemble, he worked with avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor and in 1962 released his first recording as a leader, “Archie Shepp-Bill Dixon Quartet,” on Savoy Records.

That year, Shepp joined Don Cherry in the formation of the “New York Contemporary Five” and remained with the group until its disbandment in 1964.

He participated in Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” sessions in late 1964, although none of the tracks on which he appeared made the final cut.

Archie began a thirty-year teaching career as a professor of music in 1971 when he was recruited by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Throughout the 1970s, Archie Shepp, along with jazz musicians such as Pharaoh Sanders, embraced African cultural and musical traditions, evident on Shepp’s 1972 civil rights-motivated LP releases “Attica Blues” and “The Cry of My People.”

During the 1980s and ’90s, he toured Europe and made exceptional recordings with artists including Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jasper van’t Hof, and Horace Parlan.

Archie Shepp is featured in a live concert in Geneva, Switzerland in 1994.


Archie Shepp, tenor sax
Horace Parlan, piano
Wayne Dockery, bass
Steve McCraven, drums