Archie Shepp doesn’t play the saxophone so much as he sings through it. His phrasing is expressive and free, on par with the great jazz and blues vocalists, and six decades of making music has not dulled his abilities. Each note on Let My People Go, his new record with pianist Jason Moran, is fresh, like the start of some fascinating conversation you’re lucky enough to overhear. At 83, Shepp has found a worthy partner in this particular exchange. Moran is 37 years Shepp’s junior, but has worked with greats like Wayne Shorter, Cassandra Wilson, and Charles Lloyd. His presence on Let My People Go is elegant and highly sensitive to Shepp’s spirited wanderings. Recorded live in 2017 and 2018, Let My People Go captures a dialogue between two highly skilled and empathetic collaborators, whose reverence for space matches their regard for the music itself.

Let My People Go collects Shepp and Moran’s performances from two sets: a gig at Paris’ annual Jazz à la Villette festival in 2017 and live recordings from 2018’s Enjoy Jazz Festival in Mannheim, Germany. For their first time recording together, having met just a few years prior, it’s remarkable how at ease both men sound in each other’s presence. Shepp has said that he tries not to use written music during his performances in an attempt to “make it as much like old New Orleans as possible: that is, completely improvised and nonacademic.” Let My People Go epitomizes that
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