Concert Review: Civil Disobedience (Blue Note Records In The Progressive 60s) @ The Falcon, 09/10/2023
Blue Note was and is the jazz recording label that frequently reflects the music and trends of the time. Its original owners, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, were not only the label’s owners but were also considered friends and confidantes of the musicians. There were many times that the tape rolled during their tenure, but the recordings were not released until years or decades later as they were not considered commercial. Many of these recordings reflected the civil rights struggle and the turmoil of the time. One could say that although this music did not inspire the demonstrators like the folk music of the era, it instead was inspired by the movement and the emotions that many were experiencing at the time.
Bassist David Ambrosio decided to perform some of these pieces with a modern interpretation of the compositions with an all-star band to reflect the music’s timelessness and actual relevance to contemporary times.
They opened with “For Duke P,” dedicated to Duke Person. The aggressive front end that characterizes much of hard bop was well represented by Donny McCaslin’s tenor sax and Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet. There was plenty of room to showcase band members On this particular tune, Donny McCaslin was given the room to breathe followed by pianist Gary Versace.
“Poor People’s March” was the only piece in direct reference to an incident in the struggle for economic justice. It was originally spearheaded by Dr. Martin Luther King. He was assassinated the month before, though the march continued. The music is joyful and celebratory, even though the effect of the march and subsequent encampment was blunted by the absence of Dr. King and the struggles for an “Economic Bill Of Rights” continue.
The music of “Bedouin” fits the title. The world travel that many jazz musicians do to perform is fed back into inspiration. Bedouins live in Saudi Arabia. The music inspires visions of swirling winds, sandstorms, and Middle Eastern music. Very reminiscent of the soundtrack from the film “Lawrence of Arabia.”
“Mirrors” is a beautiful ballad.
“Time to Go’ is a James Spalding composition. According to MLK’s principles, resistance is not a lawless protest but a moral obligation. This composition expresses these ideas tonally and rhythmically. The piece started out simmering with the slow-burning fire of Ingrid Jensen’s trumpet, followed by the insistent soprano sax of Donny McCasline.
The closer was “Verne’s Tune.” The performance was a Tour De Force by Gary Versace.
Mention was made of the passing of the 93-year-old bassist Richard Davis, who has graced the recordings and stages of many in rock and jazz, including Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. He was also a great champion of social justice and strongly believed in the music he played.
This performance was originally scheduled for 3/15/23 at the beginning of the COVID pandemic and has finally come to pass. So many changes in where the world is and was have made these pieces more timely. Yet the music remains timeless.
- Composition – Composer
- For Duke P – Bobby Hutcherson
- Poor People’s March – Harold Land
- Bedouin – Duke Person
- Mirrors – Joe Chambers
- Time to Go – James Spaulding
- Verne’s Tune – Jackie McLean
- David Ambrosio-Bass
- Ingrid Jensen-Trumpet
- Don McCaslin- Saxophone
- Gary Versace- Piano
- Adam Nussbaum-Drums