The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

It’s quite a task to take on: an original jazz suite honoring Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In his absorbing liner notes, bassist Christian McBride lays out the chronology of how this commissioned work came to be, and more importantly what it came to be. It was composed in 1998, expanded 10 years later for big band, and premiered that way live in LA several months before Barack Obama’s election. The recording was finally made in 2013 but did not see release until 2020. And so when we hear the words from Obama’s first inaugural address, “A new dawn of American leadership is at hand,” quoted on the final track, we hear it very differently.
Regardless of the political status quo, McBride hopes to have The Movement Revisited stand on its own merits as a musical experience. And the merits are considerable: Many members of the Christian McBride Big Band appear, but also members of his small group Inside Straight (vibraphonist Warren Wolf, alto saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson), plus a choir arranged and orchestrated by J.D. Steele. Pianist Geoff Keezer and drummer Terreon Gully join McBride to drive the rhythm section, eliciting powerful solos from saxophonists Ron Blake and Todd Bashore, among others. The words of the four icons are dramatically voiced by Sonia Sanchez (Parks), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Malcolm X), Dion Graham (Ali), and Wendell Pierce (King).
There’s a great deal of musical variety as it progresses, from intensely swinging hard bop to Motown-esque, tambourine-tapping R&B to the ambitious brass chorale writing and other intricacies of the final track, which builds to Count Basie-style blues riffing with a hugely cathartic “Amen!” to end the whole affair.


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