Liberation Music Orchestra: America the Beautiful (Medley: America the Beautiful/Lift Every Voice and Sing/Skies of America)


America the Beautiful (Medley: America the Beautiful/Lift Every Voice and Sing/Skies of America)


Liberation Music Orchestra


Not in Our Name (Verve B0004949-02)

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Charlie Haden (bass), Carla Bley (piano), Miguel Zenon (alto sax), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Chris Cheek (tenor sax), Tony Malaby (tenor sax), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Matt Wilson (drums),

Michael Rodriguez (trumpet) Seneca Black (trumpet), Ahnee Sharon Freeman (French horn), Joe Daley (tuba)


Composed by Samuel A. Ward & Katherine Lee Bates/James Weldon Johnson & J. Rosamond Johnson/Ornette Coleman


Recorded: Rome, July 19-22, 2004


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies," but post-9/11 the skies of America seemed less safe; and the honorably intended "Not on my watch" led to a misbegotten war and the international anti-war slogan "Not in Our Name." This became the title of Liberation Music Orchestra's 2005 CDa truly patriotic and American album, though not in a form Conservatives and hardliners are likely to appreciate.

LMO has retained its staunch political stance even though the usual "free" blowing has become more mellow, and any "edge" now resides in the players' potent solos rather than within the, well, beautiful ensemble passages. All is solidly evident in the 17-minute "America the Beautiful" that serves as the album's centerpiece. Carla Bley's piano plays the familiar melody straight, then moves into discordant Kurt Weill territory that the orchestra gleefully joins. Altoist Miguel Zenn and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez are two splendid voices subsequently raised in song, while tuba guy Joe Daley wheezes like a drunken trombone up in the stratosphere. Some serious free noise fuses with Bley's pointilliste flickering and drummer Matt Wilson's shifting-but-steady accents as the band lurches and marches on. This "America" is fraught with periphrasis from sea to shining C.

Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher


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