“Transformation is the highest expression of change.” Apt words from composer, reed man and Jazz At Lincoln Center mainstay Ted Nash when he was asked to distill his new release for Tiger Turn records.
Indeed, transformation has been the bye-word for the past year for reasons I need not explain. As it applies to this recording, “Transformation” is of the ilk of humanity. The cultural upheavals we’ve all been witnessing have culminated in a social justice movement the likes of which hasn’t been witnessed in a generation.
If you read this feature regularly, I referred recently to a sense of delightful surprise that we were able to air Iggy Pop in proper jazz context. This time around, it’s spoken word from actor Glenn Close. She delivers an invective on race in America that is intense. Amy Irving and Wayne Brady also fill the bill of what at times feels like a stage production.
As for the music? Wynton Marsalis, Victor Goines, Sherman Irby and others lend jazz credentials to Nash’s vision.
After that, you may need a Latinesque pallet-cleanser. Might I suggest “Sing To The World?” Its the first new offering from Benito Gonzalez in a while. To dub it Latinesque may be a broad stroke. The rhythms are unavoidable and infectious. But Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride and Essiet Essiet deliver a roundhouse kick that reminds us that music can be entertaining as well as topical. Or tropical, for that matter!