The Ogún Meji Duo featuring Dr. Mark Lomax, II and Edwin Bayard: #BLACKLIVESMATTERBy
#BLACKLIVESMATTER is a three-part suite running almost forty-five minutes. It opens with "Amerikkka" and a fiery sermon/history lesson from Jeremiah Wright, President Obama's former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. About one minute in, the toms slowly rise like an approaching storm, and Wright accelerates through a litany of governmental failings, Lomax quickens his pace. Seven-minutes in, Bayard joins with a fiercely reimagined sampling of "America, the Beautiful," breaking it down to rage and discord. "Stop Singin' and Start Swingin'" begins with the words of the late Afro-centrist psychiatrist Frances Cress Welsing, followed by Malcolm X. When the duo joins in it is with an extended and incendiary free improvisation that doesn't let up for the next ten minutes. Civil Rights activist and Black Panther Party leader Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) picks up the narration in the final minutes of the movement. He reminds his audience that "You can only win freedom on reason" urging consciousrather than unconsciousrebellion. The final section"Black, Beautiful and Powerful"is introduced with a segment of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech given the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Bayard's anguished tenor and Lomax' thundering drums expressing a visceral sense of desolation. MLK finishes the piece urging black Americans to secure their own emancipation.
Lomax and Bayard are wise to have let the spoken narratives interweave with their playing. It appropriately designates the human voices as the most important instruments on #BLACKLIVESMATTER. It makes the message inescapable and if that's uncomfortable to some, so be it. The suite runs counter to complacency and it does so passionately, effectively, and without reticence.
Part 1: Amerikkka; Part 2: Stop Singin' and Start Swingin’; “Part 3: Black, Beautiful and Powerful.
Dr. Mark Lomax, II: drums; Edwin Bayard: saxophone, tenor.
Title: #BLACKLIVESMATTER | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: CFG Multimedia
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About Dr. Mark Lomax, II
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