Tenor saxophonist and composer Archie Shepp is known for his radical jazz and his radical politics. His recent work has emphasized interpreting the traditions from which his playing and writing is derived, including a blues and spiritual album with Horace Parlan and a tribute album to Charlie Parker "Looking at Bird." His latest album is "Mama Rose." Shepp is also a playwright, poet, and professor. Shepp moved to Philadelphia at the age of 7, and will perform a concert with McCoy Tyner at the Cool Jazz Festival.
Taj Mahal is a musician known for his blues songs. Later in his career, he would incorporate African, Caribbean, and Latin influences into his music. His records appeal to blues, rock, and folk audiences, and a compilation of his work, "The Best of Taj Mahal," has recently been published. Mahal is in Philadelphia to perform at the Tower Theater.
Jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews "Repercussions," the British documentary series on African and Afro-American music. One segment features American jazz drummer Max Roach; another highlights the Los Angeles rhythm-and-blues scene and "highlife" musicians from Ghana. The series is now available on home video.
Rock Critic Ken Tucker reviews three albums by older black male vocalists who are trying their hand at new genres, or trying to extend the traditions they first performed in. The albums are "Forever and Ever," the second solo album by Howard Hewett, a former singer with the black rhythm and blues group Shalamar, "On the Strength," by the rap group Grandmaster Flash, and "I Need Money Bad," by John Whitehead.
Music critic Nelson George considers the changing nature of black music. In the past, Nelson says, African American artists, record store owners, and concert promoters were more community oriented. He thinks the focus now is on corporate-backed, commercial success.
Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews "The Cinderella Theory," the new album by the master of funk, George Clinton. Clinton began his musical career when he formed The Parliaments. But it's with his densely layered rhythm lines and rap that Clinton has made his mark on music, defining the funk sound and culture. His best-known songs include "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," "Atomic Dog" and "Think! It ain't illegal yet."
Tex-Mex rocker Doug Sahm. For many, he's still best known for his stint with the Sir Douglas Quintet, a group of Texans and Mexicans who were packaged to look like a British Invasion band. The group sported regal coats and fakey British accents and cranked out hits like "Mendocino" and "She'a About a Mover." Sahm has been playing a variety of styles ever since, including Tex-Mex, blues, rhythm and blues, rock. Sahm is now touring with Antone's Texas R&B Revue, and has just released a new album, titled Juke Box Music.