Soul of the Movement (Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) – Marcus Shelby Orchestra feat. Fay Carol & Kenny Washington – Portofranco Records

by | Feb 24, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Soul of the Movement (Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) – Marcus Shelby Orchestra feat. Fay Carol & Kenny Washington – Portofranco Records ****:

This is a concept album centering on the Civil Right Movement as an expression of courageous citzenship and an affirmation of human dignity. The many photo images on the album are all framed like bus windows – a clever idea.. Marcus Shelby is a bassist, composer and arranger in San Francisco, who teaches an annual workshop at Rooftop Alternative School there on the intersection of music, politics and history. He took his family on a tour of the South prior to creating this album, to learn more about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. He says there are three musical avenues in this effort: spiritual and freedom songs associated with Dr. King, re-arrangement and re-orchestration of music by composers associated with the Movement, and finally his own original compositions  which came out of his trip to the South.

The spirituals and freedom songs include “There is a Balm in Gilead,”  “Amen”, “We Shall Overcome”, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “Take My Hand Precious Lord.”  Cutis Mayfield’s “We’re a Winner” is in there, and Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus” seems to sum it all up. “Birmingham: Project C” highlights Dr. King’s organization (the C stood for Confrontation) which endured many assaults in finally moving ahead some civil rights results.

Shelby’s arrangements are terrific, bringing in a vocalist here and there as appropriate. This is a wonderful album, combining educational material on this historic period in American life which advanced peace and justice, combined with nostalgic and enjoyable musical material.  The extensive notes are a help in this process.

TrackList:
There Is a Balm in Gilead, Amen, Emmett Till, Black Cab, Fables of Faubus, We Shall Overcome, Trouble on the Bus, Birmingham, Go Tell It On the Mountain, We’re a Winner, Memphis, Take My Hand Previous Lord.

 – John Henry

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