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Archie Shepp

Today, music is visual.

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A whole generation of young whites have involved themselves with traditional Negro music.

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Yes, the audience is so important to Negro music, especially the element of call and response.

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And when I met Cecil Taylor it was a complete transformation of musical identities. All the tenets that I had grown up with were thrown out the window.

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You get a show where people are jumping up and dancing, but it's not a critical event in the sense of profound catharsis. Essentially it's celebratory.

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Rap actually took root in the Negro community, and then in the Hispanic community, long before it impacted on the larger American community as a whole.

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I find that here in the States, audiences are generally less knowledgeable, from the cognitive point of view, though they are emotionally more receptive.

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Negro music and culture are intrinsically improvisational, existential. Nothing is sacred. After a decade, a musical idea, no matter how innovative, is threatened.

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In rap music, even though the element of poetry is very strong, so is the element of the drum, the implication of the dance. Without the beat, its commercial value would certainly be more tenuous.

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So, I was just a young guy, maybe with an idea, and Cecil Taylor, himself a rebel, would take a chance on a guy like me. It turned out to be a very symbiotic partnership. I learned a lot from him.

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