Archie Shepp will mark his 83rd year on May 24, and will surely have to delay celebrating it in proper style until the coronavirus crisis passes. These days, he moves at a more deliberate pace than he once did, using a stylish French walking stick, ebony and white. It fits with the sartorial sense he favors these days—tailored suits, fedoras with snap-down brims—a far different look from what he wore when he first rose to prominence in the 1960s. Then he was the outsider fighting his way onto the scene, and came to serve as the spearpoint of The New Thing: a generational movement focused on politically charged, avant-garde jazz. Sixty years on, with almost 100 albums to his credit, he looks and fits the role of an éminence grise.

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