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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show


Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

Jul 3, 2019

America’s Independence Day – July 4 – has been marked on Straight No Chaser by an annual recitation of the Declaration of Independence and a playing of Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful.” But as I prepared the same post this year, I realized that it was inappropriate.

It was inappropriate because this is a year when America is more divided, more bitterly turned against one another than ever before in my lifetime, often a shadow of its former self. I never dreamed that the America I wake in every day these days would be the America I left to my son and grandsons.

So this year, I prepared a Podcast which intends to bring across in music the great frustrations so many of us feel about America. I begin once again with “America the Beautiful” – a song sung by an African-American (Ray Charles), the son of a sharecropper, with lyrics written by a woman (Katherine Lee Bates) and music by a man (Samuel A. Ward). But the message must be refracted through the lens of the rest of the songs I have chosen, all questioning whether we are crowning our good with brotherhood in 2019, and if there is a chance we can regain some of our common sense and grace:

Noah Preminger – “A Change is Gonna Come” from Meditations on Freedom

Delfeayo Marsalis presents the Uptown Orchestra – the Title Track from Make America Great Again!

Wadada Leo Smith – “America, Pts. 1-3” from Ten Freedom Summers

Brad Mehldau – “The Prophet is a Fool” from Finding Gabriel

Ratetet – “Red State, Blue State” from Arctic

The Dirty Dozen Band featuring Chuck D – the Title Track from What’s Going On

Charlie Haden and the Liberation Orchestra – “This is Not America” from Not In Our Name

I end with an element of hope – but not a lot of faith:

Mavis Staples – “Build a Bridge” from If All I Was Was Black

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones - “The Star Spangled Banner” from Flight of the Cosmic Hippo

(Note: This version of "The Star Spangled Banner" was arranged during the Battle of Wadi Al-Battle in Iraq in1991and was recorded a day after the battle started.)