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 started 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 his enrollment at Goddard College from the mid to late ’50s where he studied drama, he eventually turned to music.

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

That year Shepp joined Don Cherry in the formation of the “New York Contemporary Five” a remained until the group’s 1964 disbandment.

He was a participant in Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” sessions in late 1964, however none the tracks on which he appeared made the final cut.

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

Throughout the 1970s Archie Shepp along with jazz men such as Pharaoh Sanders embraced African cultural and musical traditions, evident on Shepps 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 recorded with artists including Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jasper van’t Hof, and Horace Parlan.

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


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