May 29, 2024

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CD review: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra & Wynton Marsalis – The Democracy! Suite 2021: Video, CD cover

On January 15, 2021, on the occasion of a new year and the 2021 U.S. presidential inauguration, Wynton Marsalis will release The Democracy! Suite, the follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s pro-vocative work, The Ever Fonky Lowdown, which was released in 2020. Featuring a hand-picked lineup consisting of members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Democracy! Suite will be available globally as a digital album on Blue Engine Records.

Composed by Marsalis during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis as a response to the political, social, and economic struggles facing our nation, The Democracy! Suite is a swinging and stimulating instrumental rumination on both the issues that have recently dominated our lives, as well as the beauty that could emerge from a collective effort to create a better future.

During the lockdown, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet with Wynton Marsalis convened to record The Democracy! Suite in The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City. The piece was also recorded as a concert film that virtually “toured” performing arts centers, helping them to engage their audiences and raise revenue during what has been a difficult time for presenters and musicians alike.

Tracks such as “Out Amongst the People (For J Bat)” and “Be Present” are an impassioned reflection of turbulent times that find peerless musicians working as a harmonious community, urging us to reflect on the past and reconsider the future. “Deeper Than Dreams” is for those who lost loved ones during this time, and “That Dance We Do (That You Love Too)“ was inspired by the music and grooves heard in protests around the world.

“Jazz music is the perfect metaphor for democracy,” says Marsalis. At a time when America—and indeed, the whole world—finds itself at a crossroads, he was inspired to write this poignant and buoyant work which proves that the joy and beauty of jazz can bring us all closer together.

“The question that confronts us right now as a nation is, ‘Do we want to find a better way?’” Marsalis asks.

The music of The Democracy! Suite may be instrumental, but it speaks for itself, urging us onto action—to get out of our seats and fight for the world we believe in.

Wynton Marsalis’s exploration of socio-cultural and political issues has yielded some of his most inspired and provocative work over the last four decades. Those works include the GRAMMY® Award-winning Black Codes in 1985; Blood on the Fields, the first jazz composition ever to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1996; All Rise in 2002 (performed by symphonic orchestras the world over to great acclaim); and 2007’s” From the Plantation to the Penitentiary”: which according to one reviewer, “reveals some important truth about this country with a lot of anger and heart.” In 2020, Blue Engine Records released The Ever Fonky Lowdown, Marsalis composition to directly address the irresistible cocktail of deception, racism, greed, and gullibility that subverts the global fight for human rights and corrupts the possibilities and promise of democracy in America and around the world.

  1. Be Present (5:13)
  2. Sloganize, Patronize, Realize, Revolutionize (Black Lives Matters) (6:58)
  3. Ballot Box Bounce (4:41)
  4. That Dance We Do (That You Love Too) (6:10)
  5. Deeper Than Dreams (5:40)
  6. Out Amongst the People (for J Bat) (5:27)
  7. It Come ‘Round ‘Gin (5:58)
  8. That’s When All Will See (4:49)

Wynton Marsalis – trumpet, music director
Ted Nash – alto and soprano saxophones, flute
Walter Blanding – tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet
Elliot Mason – trombone
Dan Nimmer – piano
Carlos Henriquez – bass
Obed Calvaire – drums, tambourine

The Democracy! Suite – Wynton Marsalis Official Website

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