Denys Baptiste (ten); Nat Facey (alt); Nathaniel Cross (tmb); Mark ? (tpt); Omar Puente (vln); ? (pno); Gary Crosby (bs); Satin Singh (perc.); Roy Jones (dms); Harry Brown (md) + second violin and 2 cellos and the In Groove Voices led by Sharon Durant.
(Review and photo of Denys Baptiste by Lance).
This was a concert of deep social significance - a celebration of Martin Luther King's famous 1963 speech - I have a dream.
Hall One should have been full to the rafters! As it happened the assemblage could have fitted into Hall Two with room to spare. Why this concert should have been ignored by most of the North East Jazz cognoscenti remains a mystery to me. Perhaps if the personnel had been released in advance it may have drawn more punters. Still, I can always tell those who "played the wag" about it and make them green with envy when I describe Facey's alto solos, Puentes' fiddling, Cross on trombone, the percussionists and, of course, Baptiste himself on tenor.However, this wasn't just a blowing session, although the solos were outstanding. This was a masterful merge of composition and soloists which may ultimately be comparable with the extended works of Ellington, Mingus or Gil Evans. I say "ultimately" as on this, the first performance, there were rough edges which will no doubt be ironed out as the tour progresses. Even so, warts and all, this was a prodigious undertaking. The screen behind the band showed relevant projected images - back of the bus, police brutality, whites only, Ku Klux Klan interspersed with the words of King - a shocking reminder of American society in the 1950's and 60s - a culture that still lingers on. and not just in America. This country isn't any better even today. We maybe don't segregate by signs but I bet there is not one person reading this who doesn't know someone, and I mean a friend or neighbour, who isn't openly racist.
A special mention of the locally based In Groove Voices who, led by Sharon Durant, provided some pivotal moments in the program. My apologies for not catching all the band names - each one deserved to be acknowledged. Perhaps future dates could include an info sheet?