A somewhat surprising pairing at the time, the former firebrand of the tenor sax and the wonderful South African pianist found a pleasant and relaxed meeting point. By 1978, Shepp had largely abandoned the ferocious attack that gained him renown in the '60s, settling on a rich, Ben Webster-ish tone and playing a repertoire consisting of modern standards and bluesy originals. Two such pieces, the lovely Dave Burrell/Marion Brown composition "Fortunato" and Mal Waldron's "Left Alone," are highlights of this session, Shepp's burnished tone as soft as an old shoe. Ibrahim is a fairly deferential partner here, generally preferring to play the role of accompanist, although certainly one sprinkling his work with plenty of ideas for Shepp to work off. But the prevailing sense of relaxation begins to pall after a while and one wishes for a bit more of the old rough and tumble that these two were surely capable of. Still, for those who enjoyed Shepp's mid-'70s dates for Arista/Freedom and Ibrahim's more subdued group efforts of the late '70s and early '80s, there's much good listening here. ~ Brian Olewnick
Recording information: Nippon Columbia 1st Studio, Tokyo, Japan (06/05/1978).
Personnel: Archie Shepp (soprano, alto & tenor saxophones); Dollar Brand (piano).
Personnel: Dollar Brand (piano); Archie Shepp (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Abdullah Ibrahim (piano).
2 Barefoot Boy From Queens Town
3 Left Alone
4 Theme from "Proof of the Man"