by Sylvannia Garutch
Christian McBride is an award-winning Philadelphia-born bassist/bandleader that has been taking the jazz community by storm since arriving in New York City in 1989. Since that time, McBride has appeared on over 300 records, and his stunning technique has earned him the reputation as being one of the most accomplished bass players alive. He enjoys successes both as a bandleader and as a sideman with some of jazz’s biggest names. Fans of McBride’s writing and playing will be glad to know he has a new project titled, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons. The album presents a historically and culturally informative five-part suite for an 18-piece big band, vocal chorus, and narrators. The driving force behind the project is the Civil Rights Movement, as presented through McBride’s artistic lens. Jazz fans will surely love this big band, and all the big-name players, its unusual use of a choir, and the narration give it a unique flavor. McBride provides a rich and driving foundation to maintain the awareness of today’s issues and the Civil Rights Movement.
The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons is a stirring collection of music that is personal to McBride. He speaks about the project, “I think that what is going on with our society right now is that we’re picking up the struggle over civil rights – human rights, really – where we left off at an earlier time in our culture, while also fighting some new battles. So, if ‘The Movement Revisited’ can propel awareness of not just today’s issues, but our history, while pleasing people musically, then it has done its job.”
“Sister Rosa” has a bluesy melody with full, rich choir voicings supporting the big band. The band is excellent, they are balanced and play with a unity that is impressive since most of the players are known for their own unique solo careers. The feel is fantastic, of course, after all, it is McBride driving the bus here. Wolf and Keezer both turn in solos that are thrilling and are marvels of technical finesse and melodic creativity. McBride’s orchestration is beautiful, with J.D. Steele providing the choral arrangement. Together this is a stirring statement of power and empowerment.
“Rumble in the Jungle” is the highlight of the big band and chorus working together to form a cohesive sound that is a marvel of counterpoint and archetype musical colors. With McBride and Carl Maraghi laying down the soulful bass line. The chorus emotionally fills the space with the big band adding the woodwind choir and brass choir to the counterpoint and rhythmic stabs. The choir is split into male and female voices for a stirring call and response section. McBride’s lyrics are emotional and capture the fantastic figure Muhammad Ali in verse and song. The funky jazz feel continues as the woodwinds pass the solo space between themselves. Again, the cohesive sound between the voices and the big band is stirring.
In conclusion, The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons is a monumental project that only McBride could pull-off. His unique ability to lead, inspire, and communicate both on and off the bandstand is seldom congealed into one individual. He is perhaps the modern-day icon for the Civil Rights Movement in the jazz genre. His finesse, charisma, and tact far outshine others that have come before him and continue to hold the torch. In the end, though, I believe that most of the narrations will not find their way on to most jazz fans playlist. However, McBride’s genius is his message is still strong and vibrant within the songs and their lyrics that WILL be found on many playlists. Highly Recommended!
Christian McBride, bass
J.D. Steele, choral arranger, lead vocals on tracks 9, 12
Alicia Olatuja, lead vocals on track 6
Sonia Sanchez, narrates the words of Rosa Parks
Vondie Curtis-Hall, narrates the words of Malcolm X
Dion Graham, narrates the words of Muhammad Ali
Wendell Pierce, narrates the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sonia Sanchez, narrate the words of President Barack Obama
Vondie Curtis-Hall, narrate the words of President Barack Obama
Dion Graham, narrate the words of President Barack Obama
Wendell Pierce, narrate the words of President Barack Obama
Steve Wilson, alto saxophone, flute
Todd Bashore, alto saxophone
Ron Blake, tenor, soprano saxophone
Loren Schoenberg, tenor saxophone
Carl Maraghi, baritone saxophone
Michael Dease, trombone
Steve Davis, trombone
James Burton, trombone
Doug Purviance, bass trombone
Lew Soloff, trumpet
Ron Tooley, trumpet
Frank Greene, trumpet
Freddie Hendrix, trumpet
Darryl Shaw, trumpet
Warren Wolf, vibraphone, tambourine, tympani
Geoffrey Keezer, piano
Terreon Gully, drums