INTERCOMMUNAL MUSIC/LES FORCES PROGRESSISTES
Shandar : 1971
FT, piano, guitar, maracas; Alan Shorter, trumpet; Steve Potts, alto sax; Alan Silva, cello; Beb Guerin and Bob Reid, bass; Sunny Murray, drums; Louis Armfield, percussion.
In honor of Obama’s inauguration, we offer up some unreconstructed leftist free jazz, harkening back to a time when radical form and content were one and the same. This blow-out also serves as an exorcism, a clarion call and sustained scream to wipe the slate clean, while also affirming both the communal impulse and the fight necessary to maintain it.
Francois Tusques’ collective ensemble represents a different sort of Paris Commune. Featuring a Who’s Who of avant garde jazz musicians spanning the U.S. and France, Intercommunal Music celebrates global solidarity. Sonically the title track could almost fill a slot in the contemporaneous BYG/Actuel catalog, but it’s distinguished by insistent sing-song repetitions, subtle compositional shifts, and unorthodox mixing. Not to mention some thundering beats. Like a Godard film from the period, the album includes intertitles like “The bourgeoisie are going to be seen anew in the icy eyes of the sociopath.” But, fortunately, the music’s sense of comaraderie and purposeful play overwhelm the hectoring.
The album’s back cover features a smiling woman with an afro giving the black power salute. The caption, written by Francois Tusques, reads: “Erika, revolutionary, 22 years old at the moment this album was recorded, is a symbol of the forces which will roll over the ‘pigs’ that govern the United States at this very hour.” Today this reads as simplistic radical chic, but the radiant optimism on the woman’s face is undeniable. The fact the U.S. now has a black president hardly means the struggle is over but as we usher the latest set of ‘pigs’ off the national stage, it’s nice to remember some progress has been made. As for Erika Huggins herself, a member of the Black Panther party, the internet tracks her last whereabouts as working to better the lives of women in prison, still engaged in the intercommunal struggle.