From ear to ear: jazz music of resistance, change, revolution and love

Many songs of protest, struggle, hope for justice, and a better way of life that were written in the 1960s and 1970s seem just as relevant today as they were back then. gave birth to them. Let’s take a look back at some timeless classics from socially conscious musicians who have never been afraid to express themselves.

Sam Cooke – “A change will happen”

Sam Cooke’s heartfelt rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come” remains an anthem of the civil rights era. Released in 1964 (on the B-side of “Shake”), its memorable composition was inspired by the fact that Cooke and his company turned away from a white-only motel in Louisiana. In 2007, the song was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

Bobby Hutcherson – “The Black Heroes”

Inspired by the poetry of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, vibraphone master Bobby Hutcherson made a landmark 1969 recording for Blue Note records titled “Now! Bobby’s collaboration with saxophonist Harold Land and songwriter / singer Gene McDaniels remains a timeless piece of deep social commentary. Land’s “black heroes” salute Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Bobby Kennedy, and call for “freedom now!” “

Doug Carn – “Time Is Running Out”

In the early 1970s, Doug and Jean Carn released three Afro-centric records for the short-lived but powerful label Black Jazz. “Time Is Running Out” comes from the 1973 date “Revelation”, on which the angelic multi-octave voice of Jean Carn steals the show. Her daring take on this song includes the lyrics: “400 Years, That’s What It Is About!” “

Archie Shepp – “Blues for Brother George Jackson”

Archie Shepp’s avant-garde sensibility meets soulful groove on the 1972 Impulse album “Attica Blues”. Shepp’s “Blues For Brother George Jackson” pays homage to the African-American author who published “Soledad Brother”, a Marxist manifesto addressed to black American audiences. Jackson was killed during an escape attempt in 1971. Shepp’s plaintive cry on the tenor saxophone contrasts nicely with the propulsive groove of this swing arrangement for a large ensemble.

Joe Cuba – “Do you feel it?”

In 1972, salsa master Joe Cuba released an album called “Bustin ‘Out”. Although Donny Hathaway enjoyed enormous success with “The Ghetto” in 1969, no song better illustrates the challenges and frustrations, but also the pride and joy, of life in the Spanish Harlem ghetto in New York than “Do You Feel It?

Léon Thomas – “The creator has a master plan”

In 1969, Leon Thomas released “The Creator Has A Master Plan” on an album called “Spirits Known and Unknown”. Thomas’ patented yodeling and scatting here takes a back seat to his more subdued spiritual approach, expressing hope for peace and love for all mankind on this classic recording.

Buckshot LeFonque – “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”

In 1994, Branford Marsalis enlisted Maya Angelou to recite “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” for an album by her musical group Buckshot LeFonque. Marsalis’ hybrid of jazz and hip hop provided an astonishing platform for Angelou’s recollection of his 1969 autobiography on combating racism and trauma.

Cannonball Adderley – “Walk High”

Cannonball Adderley recorded his album “Country Preacher” live at a meeting of Southern Christian Leadership “Operation Breadbasket” Church in Chicago. This 1969 album featured Joe Zawinul’s contagious and moving “Walk Tall,” a message of black empowerment written by a white musician who grew up in Austria. Such is the power and the universality of jazz music!


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Henry R. Wright

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