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The Politics of Dancing: Jazz and Protest, Part 2

Karl Ackermann By

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While not strictly chronological, the first disc opens with "Dred Scott, 1857," a tribute to the Virginia-born slave who sued for his own and his family's freedom in an 1857 Supreme Court case. The court ruled against Scott 7-2 and the decision led to general outrage in the North and accelerated the tensions that led to the Civil War. Smith touches on many landmark Civil Rights milestones in the collection. Pieces reference Rosa Parks, Emmett Till and Martin Luther King, Jr. among others.

One highlight of Ten Freedom Summers is "Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and the Civil Rights Act of 1964." At almost one-half hour, the suite expresses emotions in measured and varying degrees expanding free and avant-garde concept at times and incorporating comforting elements of classicism at others. The final disc in the set pays tribute to 9/11 with "September 11th, 2001: A Memorial" and closes—coming full circle—with "Martin Luther King, Jr.: Memphis, The Prophecy." A personal and historical benchmark in Smith's long, extensive catalog, Ten Freedom Summers benefits from hindsight and analysis to be considered the most comprehensive narrative of the Civil Rights Movement in creative music.

Photo RGD0006N-0764-1 courtesy of Houston Public Library HMRC

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