Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Various Artists - Freedom, Ryhthm and Sound (Soul Jazz, 2009)

During the 1960's, spurred on by the civil rights movement, African-American jazz musicians began to take control of the means of jazz production. Forming artists collectives like the AACM and BAG, and releasing their music on small artist run record labels, musicians began to take complete control of the music they were making. This compilation tracks jazz inspired by the struggle for rights and equality and the struggle for artists to remain fiercely independent. Some of the music here draws on soul and R&B like Archie Shepp's protest anthem "Attica Blues" incorporates strings and strong declamatory vocals. The Art Ensemble of Chicago looks back even further to gospel and hymns for their "Old Time Religion." There is some burning post-bop jazz here as well, especially Joe Henderson's "Foregone Conclusion" with it's strong and muscular tenor saxophone soloing. Amina Claudine Myers's "3/4's of 4/4" brings the soul jazz organ full circle, and her performance has echoes of Larry Young's best work. Sun Ra's seminal, profanity-laden "Nuclear War" is a protest anthem that will stick in your head long after hearing it. The lengthy liner essay puts the music into the context of the civil rights movement, noting the major events and how they affected the music of the period. This was an interesting collection that shines a much needed light on post-Coltrane jazz and the responses of musicians to challenges both musical and societal. Freedom Rhythm & Sound -

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