Jazz Album of the Week: Christian McBride Revisits The Movement Revisited

Jun 15, 2020

June 15, 2020. In 1998, bassist and bandleader Christian McBride composed The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons as part of a musical commission. At the time, he considered it a musical portrait of the Civil Rights Movement; it became much more than that.

In 2008, it grew to include a big band, a small group, a gospel choir and narrators echoing the words of four key iconic civil rights leaders.

The Movement Revisited has evolved once again, this time including a carefully selected cast to portray the spirit of Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali.

The cast, entrusted to deliver exerpts from pertinant speeches, includes actors Vondie Curtis-Hall as Malcolm X, Dion Graham as Muhammad Ali and Wendell Pierce as Dr. King. The only non-actor, who hails from McBride’s hometown of Philadelphia, rhythmically delivers the words of Rosa Parks. With deep ties to Temple University, the first-ever Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez contributes to this crucial performance.

Each historic monologue leads into a piece of music written for each of the featured icons, and performed by Christian's Big Band (which also breaks into smaller jazz combos), a Gospel choir (Voices of the Flame) and guest vocalists Alicia Olatuja and choral director J.D. Steele.  These songs, aptly named for each figure, showcase some of the best musicians in the world of Black Music.

There are two selections that feature all of the narrators throughout, and they are “Overature,” the opening of the album, and “Apotheosis: November 4, 2008.” The latter was an addition for a very special performance at Detroit’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church as part of the city’s 2008 Jazz Festival.

Requested to expand the suite to include President Obama, Christian obliged, and composed this piece, which highlights quotes from the President’s victory speech, and features each and every narrator.

This vital album started as a small project, and developed into this large scale Movement that continues to progress. If only our country would do the same.