Boomkat Product Review:
Available on vinyl for the first time in 40 years, Outernational Sounds proudly presents a crucial document from the Los Angeles jazz underground - the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at their most together, stretching out on home turf in 1979, with the legendary Horace Tapscott at the helm.
"Horace Tapscott is one of the unsung giants of jazz music. A gifted composer and arranger, a boldly original pianist, and above all a visionary bandleader, Tapscott’s recorded footprint is small, but his legacy continues to vibrate through the Los Angeles music underground. From Freestyle Fellowship to Build An Ark, Kamasi Washington and Dwight Trible, it all traces back to Tapscott. The pianist was an organiser, and instead of chasing a successful recording career, he wanted to build a community band that would act as ‘a cultural safe house for the music.’ ‘I wanted to say, “This is your music. This is black music, and I want to present a panorama of the whole thing right here”’ said Tapscott in the late 1990s. ‘We would preserve the music on our ark, the mothership…’ That mothership was the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra – the Ark. As a culturally radical, communal big band with a visionary approach to American Black music, Tapscott’s group is second only to the other famous Arkestra, that of Sun Ra.
Tapscott had founded the group in 1961 as the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA). It changed its name to the Pan African Peoples Arkestra in 1971, and through the seventies the players lived, played and worked together. Community work and political consciousness were at the heart of the project, and for two decades they played in street, park and coffee house. With Tapscott as their guide and mentor, the Arkestra worked with theatre groups, poets and revolutionaries, ran music workshops and teaching sessions for children and adults, and played fundraisers, benefits and rallies for political and social causes both global and local.
From 1973 to 1981 their main rehearsal and concert space was the Immanuel United Church of Christ (I.U.C.C.) on 85th St and Holmes Ave. The Arkestra played there every second Sunday, developing their sound and hipping new audiences to their vision. Live At I.U.C.C., recorded in early 1979, was the only live recording the band released. In full flow, and at the height iof their powers, the group recorded here features original 1961 UGMA members Linda Hill, David Bryant and Alan Hines, alongside the powerful voices of a new generation including Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, and Adele Sebastian.
Showcasing spiritualised classics from Arkestra’s songbook, including the heavy modal groovers ‘Desert Fairy Princess’ and ‘Macrame’, Live At I.U.C.C. is a rare chance to hear one of the most important, foundational bands in the music stretching out on their own thing. With the great Horace Tapscott at the piano, this is the rarely captured sound of the mothership in full flight!"