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Best of 2021
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 1
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 2
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 3
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 4
File under: Spiritual Jazz
Best of 2021

Horace Tapscott, Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra

Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 (3LP)

Label: Nimbus West

Format: 3 x LP

Genre: Jazz

Out of stock

Finally available after long pressing delays, comes a never before issued recording of Horace Tapscott leading his legendary Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, "Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79", documenting the entirety of a 2 hours performance that sprawls across glorious 3 LPs. Easily one of the most beautiful, striking, and historically important records of the year, it’s a joyous explosion of sound, seeded by social, political, and community-based action, at the juncture of spiritual and free jazz. 10 out of 10 and not to be missed, it’s impossible to express how happy we are to have this one in our hands after a long wait.

**500 copies, sold-out at source. Amazing 3LP set!!! The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra on fire in 1979 in a complete 2 hour concert!!! Super intimate and raw-like sitting in the front row of this small club 41 years ago … cut directly from original master tapes with no digital process whatsoever. Gatefold tip-on sleeve, featuring archival photographs and a beautiful essay by Mark Weber.** The Los Angeles based pianist, band leader, and composer, Horace Tapscott, always stood apart from the pack. A true visionary who was fiercely principled and independent, across the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s, leading his legendary Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, he produced a tour de force of sound, seeded by social, political, and community-based action.

For the entirety of their run together, Tapscott and his Arkestra, which continues to this day, were among the most important groups working in the United States. They also remain among the most under-appreciated. Thankfully, the last few years has brought a number of reissues and archival releases by Tapscott, the Arkestra, and many of its members and associates like Linda Hill, Jesse Sharps, Adele Sebastian, Nate Morgan, Curtis Clark, and others, allowing the sprawling scope and astounding merit of their accomplishments to come into view for a broader audience. Now, we have yet another from Nimbus West - the imprint founded in 1979 by Tom Albach to support Tapscott and Arkestra’s activities - Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79, a never before issued recording sprawling across three mind-bending LPs. Hugely historically important, and an absolute marvel of sound, this is West Coast avant-garde and spiritual jazz at its absolute best. Originally slated for release early this year and beset with pressing delays, we’re absolutely overjoyed to finally have this beauty in our hands.

Horace Tapscott began his career as a trombonist before switching to piano, playing with Frank Morgan, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins while still his teens, before hitting the road with Lionel Hampton during the late '50s and early '60s, an experience formative enough to push him down his own path as a band leader. For most of his career, Tapscott remained one of the unsung giants of jazz; a gifted composer, arranger, and educator, as well as a remarkably original pianist and bandleader. In 1961 he founded the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA) - which morphed into the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra roughly a decade later, a project which, despite Tapscott’s untimely passing in 1999, continues to send ripples across the world improvised music to this day, both through its own activities and through the individual gestures - past and present - of the hundreds of talented voices who have passed through its ranks (Arthur Blythe, Azar Lawrence, Jimmy Woods, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Sonny Criss, Ndugu Chancler, Nate Morgan, Jesse Sharps, Adele Sebastian, Dadisi Komolafe, Gary Bias, to mention only a few).

While Tapscott recorded in numerous configurations (almost always as a leader) and solo over the many years of his activity, from its inception UGMA / the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra remained his central focus. A radical band, creating revolutionary music that channeled Afrocentric and self-determinist philosophies, it was a community band that lived communally. In Tapscott’s own words, the project hoped to act as ‘a cultural safe house for the music.’ - an Ark, stating, “This is your music. This is black music,… a panorama of the whole thing right here”. Playing fundraisers, organising teach-ins and workshops for young and old, all the while integrating their efforts with radical theatre groups and poets, political revolutionaries, Black separatists, community groups and churches, it drew on its own culture and the immediate community from surrounding Los Angeles neighbourhoods for talent and creative inspiration, producing a totality of sound and action that has few equivalents in the history of American music.

Like Sun Ra, from whom he borrowed when naming his own Arkestra, and Kelan Phil Cohran working during the same period in Chicago, Taspcott showed deep dedication to possibilities and inclusiveness presented by working in large ensembles. Attempting to remain as free from the restrictions of the white run music industry, the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra only began to document their efforts toward the end of the 1970s - always placing community work and political consciousness at the heart of the project, preferring to play in the street, parks and coffee houses, over traditional venues. Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79, issued by Nimbus West - the imprint with which the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and its members almost exclusively worked during the '70s, '80s, and '90s - takes us into the heart of this remarkably fertile period and its incredible sounds and ideas.

Never before issued, capturing the entirety of a 2 hour live concert with a band on fire, featuring the stellar playing of Horace Tapscott, Adele Sebastian, Linda Hill, Sabir Matteen, Desta Walker, Billie Harris, Lester Robertson, Johnny Williams, Conga Mike, Daoud Woods, David Bryant, Alan Hines, and Billy Hinton, Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 has few equivalents in the band’s historical output, not to mention the entire market of contemporary archival releases. An explosion of joyous music, threaded with the warmth of Taspcott’s introductory voice - giving context and insight into the compositions and the band’s mission - the album’s rough creative proximity falls somewhere between spiritual jazz and free jazz, but within its makeup are traces numerous forms of music and cultural traditions. Bebop, big band swing, gospel, and soul percolate just below the surface, contributing a truly singular temperament of color and range, almost as though Taspcott and the Akrestra have distilled the entire history of African American music into a powerful and deeply emotive whole.

Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 is one of those rare documents of avant-garde jazz that, even 40 years after it was laid to tape, challenges the mind and creative sensibilities, while promoting the body to dance. The band is locked in and loud - rattling, rhythmic, and tonally complex - met by wild exclamations of an ecstatic audience taken to the brink. This is what music is all about - by the people and for the people, bringing us together and fueling the forward march - the sounds of hope and change, locked in mesmerizing creative exchange. Few records to have emerged this year can claim these heights. An absolute masterpiece that once heard will leave you wondering where it’s been all these years. Unquestionably one of the best records of the year, cut directly from the original master tapes with no process, and issued in a gatefold tip-on sleeve, featuring archival photos and a beautiful essay by veteran writer Mark Weber, it doesn’t get any better than this. Nimbus have only pressed 500 copies, so this one isn’t going to sit around for long. A 10 out of 10 and as essential as records come.  

Details
File under: Spiritual Jazz
Cat. number: NS-4035
Year: 2021
Notes:

While Tapscott recorded in numerous configurations (almost always as a leader) and solo over the many years of his activity, from its inception UGMA / the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra remained his central focus. A radical band, creating revolutionary music that channeled Afrocentric and self-determinist philosophies, it was a community band that lived communally. In Tapscott’s own words, the project hoped to act as ‘a cultural safe house for the music.’ - an Ark, stating, “This is your music. This is black music,… a panorama of the whole thing right here”.

Playing fundraisers, organising teach-ins and workshops for young and old, all the while integrating their efforts with radical theatre groups and poets, political revolutionaries, Black separatists, community groups and churches, it drew on its own culture and the immediate community from surrounding Los Angeles neighbourhoods for talent and creative inspiration, producing a totality of sound and action that has few equivalents in the history of American music.

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