If Conversations celebrates the memory, the artistic and spiritual heritage of bassist Fred Hopkins -- a historical member of the revolutionary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians of Chicago -- who died in January 1999, it also marks the amazing collaboration between the Ritual Trio of Kahil El'Zabar (with Ari Brown and Malachi Favors) and the intrepid veteran Archie Shepp, the great voice of the '70s Afro-free-jazz. Being a tribute that invites to an intimate memory, almost an antidote to exorcise the loss of a brother, the music is a spiritual hymn to life. Between ballads, hard-bop, and free-improvised accents, blow winds of vibrant pianistic chiaroscuros, which are reminiscent of the best McCoy Tyner in the great blinding quartet of John Coltrane in the '60s. Furthermore, when an angular rhythmic base decisively follows the typical hypnotic ostinato of the ancient tribal rituals, the voice is expressed in the purest black spirituals (Big Fred and Brother Malcolm), pervading some moments of that "Holiness" culture dear to the dawn of Afro-American identity. Here, Shepp brings back the flaming shivers of the golden age, when his message of freedom resonated the true spirits of primordial Africa.
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