Jan 15, 2021
As America stands at a political crossroads this coming week
with the inauguration of a new President, Wynton Marsalis has
written and recorded a timely collection of songs that beg to be
heard, The Democracy! Suite was composed by
Marsalis during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis as a response to the
political, social, and economic struggles facing our nation. This
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, is
played by a septet Wynton chose from the Jazz at Lincoln Center
During the lockdown, Marsalis, Ted Nash (alto and soprano saxophones, flute), Walter Blanding (tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet), Elliot Mason (trombone), Dan Nimmer (piano). Carlos Henriquez (bass), and Obed Calvaire (drums, tambourine) convened in The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City. The piece was recorded (socially distanced) there as a digital album and 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.
Ted Nash was an important part of The Democracy! Suite, as he is on most JALC recordings. He is also one of the busiest, splitting his time between JALC and his own trio, quartet, quintet, double quartet and Big Band. Receiving two Grammy Awards, the Big Band’s Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom is Nash’s most significant work. Inspired by great political speeches of the 20th century dealing with the theme of freedom, it is rich with social and political awareness. He is a founder of the Jazz Composer’s Collective, he has been featured as a sideman with the likes of Louis Bellson, Ben Allison, Freddie Hubbard, Wycliffe Gordon and Joe Lovano.
Nash and I talk about the The Democracy! Suite and Presidential Suite, and how Nash adapts to the different requirements of his very different bands and outside projects. Musical selections from The Democracy! Suite include “Ballot Box Bounce” and from the Presidential Suite is Andrew Young reading the words of Nelson Mandela, and then the Ted Nash Big Band performing "The Time for the Healing of the Wounds - Mandela."