What a mind blowing album! The opening alone takes your breath away, with the brass line gently and lyrically softened by the cello bow.Baptiste’s homage to the unforgettable words of Martin Luther King simply overwhelms you with the complexity of the writing, the multilayered levels of expression and the poignant use of the spoken-word. But above all, the inalienable power of its message: a message of freedom and justice that strongly informs the album from head to tail.
Baptiste explores with amazing ease and originality all the linguistic possibilities offered by the big band frame. His insatiable rhythmical curiosity and tonal density elevates the album to the rank of a classic-to-be. When diving into choral depths, the credit to Mingus is apparent: the massive vocal impact of the cry ‘Let Freedom Ring!’ is in itself a political statement, even before the words reach you; King’s message sounds (regrettably) as modern today as it was 40 years ago.
Baptiste’s stamina on the sax never falls short. The intelligence of employing violin and cello within the ensemble adds agility and warmth to the writing and broadens its harmonic potential, as well as the guitar’s touch in ‘I Have a Dream’ giving an atmospheric and dreamy touch to the piece.
The writing agilely jumps from straight-ahead jazz to Caribbean/blues quotations to spoken-word (by the profound and hypnotizing voice of Booker Prize winner Ben Okri.) It is a musical and emotional journey that will leave you longing to take another ride, over and over again.