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Mihaly Dresch Quartet/Archie Shepp: Hungarian Bebop

American saxophonist Archie Shepp recorded Hungarian Bebop (BMC) in Budapest with the Romanian Mih ly Dresch Quartet. Shepp and Dresch both play tenor and soprano saxophone, but it’s not hard to tell them apart. On the opening “Lily of the Valley,” for example, Dresch plays with a brighter, more focused sound, while Shepp’s conception is darker, with his gruff, instantly recognizable tone. Though the two saxophonists get the bulk of the solos in a program of Dresch originals, some of the most inventive playing comes from violinist Ferenc Kovacs, who on the noirish “Buzai Song” and the harmonically shifting “I Was Beaten Because…” manages to play virtuosic solos without merely showing off. Shepp is in fine form here, exchanging call and response with Dresch, dropping quotes from “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and playing piano on his own attractive melody “Steam.” Perhaps for the first time in his career, Shepp is accompanied by a cimbalom (a huge hammer dulcimer) on the mournful “Sorrow Sorrow.” Everyone gets to show their skills at running the changes on the title track, though it goes into slow motion to end on a surprising note.

Originally Published