Uncut (magazine) - p.1014 stars out of 5
-- "KWANZA is a cracker, shot through with Afro-centric blues and funk."
Personnel: Archie Shepp (vocals, tenor saxophone); Doris Troy, Leon Thomas, Tasha Thomas (vocals); Bert Payne, Wally Richardson (guitar); Robin Kenyatta (flute); Clarence Sharpe, James Spaulding (alto saxophone); Cecil Payne, Charles Davis (baritone saxophone); Jimmy Owens, Woody Shaw, Martin Banks (trumpet); Grachan Moncur III, Matthew Gee (trombone); Dave Burrell (piano, organ); Andrew Bey, Cedar Walton (piano); Albert Winston, Walter Booker, Wilbur Ware, Bob Bushnell (double bass); Joe Chambers, Beaver Harris, Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums).
By the early 1970s, Archie Shepp had already moved away from the strident avant-garde sound that characterized his '60s work, opting for a swing, groove, and funk-based style that relied on fat, big-band arrangements. 1974's KWANZA is an excellent example of Shepp's work from the era. In addition to being a celebration of the African-American holiday of the same name, KWANZA is witty, groovy, wild, joyous, and not entirely devoid of Shepp's cutting edge sensibility (although it's sublimated into more accessible forms here). Appearances from a bevy of jazz legends, including Joe Chambers, Woody Shaw, Grachan Moncur III, Wilbur Ware, and others, made this one of the gems in Shepp's already glittering discography.