The Liberation Music Collective | Siglo XXI

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Jazz: Progressive Big Band Hip-Hop/Rap: Jazz-Rap Moods: Type: Political
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Siglo XXI

by The Liberation Music Collective

A socially conscious big-band dedicated to performing original compositions about contemporary social issues.
Genre: Jazz: Progressive Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Murasaki
7:27 $0.99
2. War Department
10:15 $0.99
3. Matthew: Jazz Mass
1:20 album only
4. Bismillah
7:04 $0.99
5. Durand: New / Vibrant / Dangerous / Sexy
0:45 album only
6. El Viento
9:35 $0.99
7. Jess: Get Our Act Together
0:27 album only
8. Interitus
10:15 $0.99
9. Jess: Tolerance 101
0:52 album only
10. Wedding Hymn
11:12 $0.99
11. Julian: Feminism
0:54 album only
12. Herstory
5:58 $0.99
13. Durand: Black Man in America
0:53 album only
14. Black & Red
7:31 $0.99
15. Anthem of the 99%
4:42 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Liberation Music Collective is a socially-conscious big band dedicated to performing original compositions about contemporary social issues.We bring a fresh 21st-century approach to the tradition of protest music in jazz, following in the footsteps of Charlie Haden, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and many others. In addition to the jazz canon, we draw from the plurality of genres present in America, including hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, Sacred Harp hymns, Islamic liturgy, and post-modern classical music.
By focusing on social issues and embracing this plurality of styles within a jazz context, we hope to bring jazz back into the socially provocative music of our era.

Each song on on Siglo XXI is dedicated to a specific challenge within our society today, and in between each song are snippets of interviews with band members speaking about music in the modern world. The album cover is a modern take on the traditional image of Lady Justice carrying a sword and scales--and with some shades instead of a blindfold.

Press Release for Siglo XXI, by GRAMMY-Award winner Neil Tesser:

"From the start, jazz has embodied social commentary. You find it in the lament against bigotry that simmers under such early recordings as Louis Armstrong’s “Black And Blue,” and in the pioneering statement of pride that is Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige. It girds the explosive freedom cries of the 1950s, when Charles Mingus brought a highly-charged political sensibility to his compositions, and the early 60s – when John Coltrane’s “Alabama” and Max Roach’s We Insist! Freedom Now Suite propelled jazz into the American civil rights movement – and it extends to the Liberation Music Orchestra of Charlie Haden and Carla Bley, who from the late 1960s until the present day championed the cause of freedom for downtrodden peoples across the globe.

From that tradition now springs The Liberation Music Collective, a group of Indiana University students who have borrowed the name of Haden’s influential orchestra to advance the same objectives through their own new music. Siglo XXI, their ambitious and audacious debut recording, unveils “a socially conscious big band dedicated to performing original compositions about contemporary issues,” to quote the band’s statement of purpose. Toward that end, LMC co-founders Hannah Fidler (bass) and Matt Riggen (trumpet) did extensive research on each topic covered by the album – from racial profiling to climate change, religious intolerance to women’s rights to our culture’s predisposition to war and imprisonment – in preparation for the nine mesmerizing and expansive compositions that they present.

Fidler and Riggen state that “In addition to the jazz canon, we draw from the plurality of genres present in America, including hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, Sacred Harp hymns, Islamic liturgy, and post-modern classical music. By focusing on social issues and embracing this plurality of styles within a jazz context, we hope to bring jazz back into the socially provocative music of our era.” The results are charged with emotion but grounded in the facts of brutality and injustice. And yet – thanks to the strength of its music and the transformational power of art – Siglo XXI leaves an impactful impression of hope and commitment rather than despair or apathy.

Says Wayne Wallace, the GRAMMY®-nominated trombonist and Indiana University professor, who has mentored Fidler and Riggen, “They both worked in my big bands, where I always leave a door open for original compositions. They came through without any arm-twisting; they were first in line with music that was not only ambitious but also adventurous. They decided on their own that they wanted to do this project. It’s ‘retro’ in the sense that they really embrace the tradition of Charlie Haden and Carla Bley. But they definitely push the conversation forward.”

While consciously placing their repertoire along a continuum that includes such classic “message” works as Mingus’s “Fables of Faubus” and Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery,” the Liberation Music Collective aims to reach younger listeners who may be unfamiliar with jazz’s ability to bring attention to extra-musical issues. As Fidler and Riggen insightfully state: “Many young people who are into music consume jazz in small doses. They may have been in jazz band in high school, and occasionally enjoy a live jazz concert, and are at least peripherally appreciative of the richness of the jazz tradition. However, they have probably never heard jazz blend with other modern styles of music, let alone comment upon social issues that are near and dear to our generation.”

To that end, and in what may be the project’s most innovative touch, Fidler and Riggen have skillfully interposed candid interviews, with folks of their own generation, on subjects they then tackle in their compositions. Thus, the startlingly effective “Herstory” – which uses a meld of hip-hop poetry and orchestral jazz to dissect society’s treatment of women – is preceded by a male speaker discussing his views on feminism. An admittedly “pretty religious” woman expresses her tolerance for people whose sexual orientation differs from her own, before the composition “Wedding Hymn,” which the band dedicates to “the love and devotion of LGBTQ+ couples.” And “Black and Red” – which commemorates victims of the steady stream of police shootings that have roiled America over the last year – follows a statement from a young black man who explains how he tailors his appearance in public to appear less “suspicious.” This especially affecting work includes lyrics taken from a poem written by Fidler shortly after the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown (in Ferguson, Missouri) and Eric Garner (in New York City):
they baptize the asphalt with
and wash away their sins with
on the golf course.
holy trinity
another pavement christened
sanctimonious black & red.

“Black And Red” also interpolates audio snippets of speeches by Malcolm X and Troy Jackson, and the cell phone footage of Eric Garner’s final struggle to breathe – difficult to hear, but impossible to turn away from.

Siglo XXI translates as 21st Century – an appropriate title, given the music’s emphasis on issues facing the contemporary world. For Fidler, the decision to render the title in Spanish helps convey the project’s essential idea of embracing change. As she explains, “The 19th-century Cuban revolutionary José Martí wrote a hugely influential essay called Nuestra América, or Our America, that posited two Americas – the exploitative hypocrite North America, and then the rest of [the] America[s]. If we ever want there to be just one, equitable ‘nuestra América,’ the USA. will have to embrace a lot of change – and to start, we might need to get comfortable with the fact that the 21st century is just as validly ‘siglo XXI.’ To me, Spanish in America is the language of change, and our record is all about the change we want to see in this century.”

Conceived in the blazing crucible of political awakening, and executed with a maturity way beyond its leaders’ years, Siglo XXI does more than bring the band’s contemporaries closer to this vital tributary of the jazz tradition. It also signals to lifelong listeners that (to reference rock icons The Who), “The kids are all right” – and that the music is in really good hands governed by sharp minds and open hearts."



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