The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons (Mack Avenue)

Christian McBride

Released February 7, 2020

AllMusic Favorite Jazz Albums 2020




In September 1966, organist Jimmy Smith and guitarist Wes Montgomery got together at Rudy Van Gelder’s famed studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Over the course of three days, the two jazz icons recorded the material for two now-classic albums: The Dynamic Duo (1966) and Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes (1968), backed by a big band featuring arrangements by the great Oliver Nelson.

That pair of electrifying outings would prove seminal for another dynamic duo over the ensuing decades: bass great Christian McBride and master organist Joey DeFrancesco would wear out the grooves on their copies of the Smith/Montgomery summit meetings during their high school days, and both would remain touchstones throughout a friendship and collaboration that has lasted nearly 40 years. Now, the pair pays tribute with For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver, the third release by the GRAMMY Award-winning Christian McBride Big Band.

Due for release on September 25 via Mack Avenue Records, For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver echoes the format of the original Smith/Montgomery summit meetings, with a balance of big band and quartet tracks. To complete the core band, McBride called on another longtime friend and collaborator, Mark Whitfield, to play the Montgomery role, while regular CMBB drummer Quincy Phillips anchors the ensemble.

“Joey is, without question, my oldest friend in music,” McBride says. “We met in middle school playing in the Settlement Music School Jazz Ensemble. We’ve recorded a few things here and there over the years, but we’ve never recorded an entire album together until now. It seemed logical to salute the two albums that we listened to quite a bit as kids.”

The repertoire on For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver also follows from the Smith/Montgomery recordings, with four tracks reprised for the originals along with a mix of originals and standards that capture the same ebullient spirit. The celebratory tone is set with the rollicking classic “Night Train.” The familiar, window-rattling tune was part of The Dynamic Duo, but it’s been a constant in the books of many a bandleader who’s been influential to McBride and DeFrancesco, including Duke Ellington and James Brown.

Montgomery’s “Road Song” originally appeared on Further Adventures, and here allows both Whitfield and DeFrancesco to show off on captivating, exploratory solos, each brilliantly comping for the other and showing off their dynamic chemistry. “Milestones” is taken from the same album, and again allows the band to tip its collective hat not only to the album’s titular sources but to another giant who has played a key role in their musical lives: Miles Davis, who famously recruited DeFrancesco straight out of high school.

The classic spiritual “Down by the Riverside,” which opened The Dynamic Duo, is taken at a breakneck pace by the skilled band, lending the tune an even more raucous spirit than the Smith/Montgomery rendition. The last two pieces are originals: Whitfield contributed “Medgar Evers’ Blues,” a salute to the slain civil rights activist originally recorded on his 1990 debut, The Marksman. And “Pie Blues,” which closes the album on a soulful, down and dirty note, is built on a groove that McBride and DeFrancesco devised while still in high school together at Philadelphia’s High School for Creative And Performing Arts (CAPA), alongside classmates like Kurt Rosenwinkel and members of Boyz II Men and The Roots.

“There’s not really a melody, just a groove,” McBride explains. “As for the word ‘Pie,’ we’re not sure where that came from. We were just being silly. I know we sure ate a lot of pie back then!”

The band pares down to the quartet of McBride, DeFrancesco, Whitfield and Phillips for four tracks. The first is a lilting take on Freddie Hubbard favorite “Up Jumped Spring” highlighted by a nimble, singing turn by the bassist. Whitfield is at his most heartfelt on “The Very Thought of You,” with DeFrancesco’s cloud-like chords conjuring an airy atmosphere. All four rise to the sophisticated elegance of Billy Eckstine on their version of “I Want To Talk About You,” while DeFrancesco’s “Don Is,” a winking homage to bassist and Blue Note honcho Don Was, is buoyed by Phillips’ light-footed swing.

The 17-piece Christian McBride Big Band has become one of the most scintillating large ensembles on the modern jazz scene since its 2011 Mack Avenue Music Group debut, The Good Feeling. Both that album and its successor, 2017’s Bringin’ It, garnered GRAMMY® Awards in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble category. The stellar band has remained remarkably consistent throughout that history, a testament to the camaraderie and joyous vibe of McBride’s intensely swinging ensemble.

The CMBB features a host of elite musicians mixing renowned veterans with rising stars, most of them bandleaders in their own right: trumpeters Frank Greene, Freddie Hendrix, Brandon Lee, Nabate Isles and Anthony Hervey; trombonists Michael Dease, Steve Davis, James Burton and Douglas Purviance; and saxophonists Steve Wilson, Todd Bashore, Ron Blake, Dan Pratt and Carl Maraghi.

Track Listing:

1. Overture/The Movement Revisited (Christian McBride) 10:43

2. Sister Rosa – Prologue (Christian McBride) 03:20

3. Sister Rosa (Christian McBride) 06:25

4. Rosa Introduces Malcolm (Christian McBride) 03:08

5. Brother Malcolm – Prologue (Christian McBride) 02:49

6. Brother Malcolm (Christian McBride) 07:35

7. Malcolm Introduces Ali (Christian McBride) 01:03

8. Ali Speaks (Christian McBride) 02:42

9. Rumble In the Jungle (Christian McBride) 06:00

10. Rosa Introduces MLK (Christian McBride) 00:40

11. Soldiers (I Have a Dream) (Christian McBride) 05:38

12. A View From the Mountaintop (Christian McBride) 04:14

13. Apotheosis: November 4th, 2008 (Christian McBride) 10:26


Christian McBride: bass

Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, flute

Todd Bashore: alto saxophone

Ron Blake: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone

Loren Schoenberg: tenor saxophone

Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone

Michael Dease, Steve Davis, James Burton: trombone

Doug Purviance: bass trombone

Lew Soloff, Ron Tooley, Frank Greene, Freddie Hendrix, Darryl Shaw: trumpet

Warren Wolf: vibraphone, tympani, tambourine

Geoffrey Keezer: piano

Terreon Gully: drums

Alicia Olatuja: vocals (6)

J.D. Steele: vocals (9, 12)

Sonia Sanchez narrates the words of Rosa Parks

Vondie Curtis-Hall narrates the words of Malcolm X

Dion Graham narrates the words of Muhammad Ali

Wendell Pierce narrates the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sonia Sanchez, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Dion Graham and Wendell Pierce narrate the words of President Barack Obama

Voices of the Flame (Marvel Allen, Shani P. Baker, Jeffrey S. Bolding, Jeff Hamer, Susan Miles, Deborah Newallo, Eunice Newkirk, Claudine Rucker, Trevor Smith, Melissa Walker): vocals

Recorded September 8 – 11, 2013, at Avatar Studios, New York, NY

Producer: Christian McBride

Executive Producer: Gretchen Valade

Recording and Mixing Engineer: Todd Whitelock

Assistant Engineers: Tyler Hartman, Akihiro Nishimura, Trevor Fedele

Mastering: Mark Wilder

Art Direction: Raj Naik

Photography of Christian: Anna Webber

Original Cover Consept: Rob Bynder


Drawing upon the words of legendary civil rights leaders Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Muhammad Ali, Christian McBride offers a heartfelt large-ensemble tribute to the civil rights movement of the 1960s with 2020’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons. The album is his third big-band recording, following his two Grammy-winning albums, 2011’s The Good Feeling and 2017’s Bringin’ It. However, where those albums were robust and lively productions of post-bop jazz, The Movement Revisited is a more reverent and theatrical recording. Which isn’t to say it’s not harmonically rich with plenty of swinging improvisational intensity. The five-part work, which he first began performing in 1998 and has subsequently updated, spotlights McBride’s multifaceted skills as a composer, arranger, and lyricist as he frames the uplifting words of these four heroes with his soulful arrangements. The recording culminates in the final movement “Apotheosis,” celebrating the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States; an historic event that McBride beautifully ties directly to the civil rights and black power movements of the preceding decades. Helping bring the words of the civil rights leaders to life are narrators Wendell Pierce as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Vondie Curtis-Hall as Malcolm X, Sonia Sanchez as Rosa Parks, and Dion Graham as Muhammad Ali. Also showcased throughout are McBride’s bandmates, including vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, and drummer Terreon Gully, among others. While the album is orchestral in nature, all of the introductory prologues are stripped down, with McBride underlining the speaker’s words with his dusky, bluesy basslines. “Sister Rosa – Prologue” also features Steve Wilson’s wry flute accents. Conversely, on “Ali Speaks,” McBride smartly hands the musical accompaniment over to drummer Gully, who offers a pugnacious counterpoint to Ali’s swaggering vocal wit. Many of the tracks feature bright choral and gospel sections arranged with a modernist bent by J.D. Steele, a dynamic approach that evokes the edgy tonalities of ’60s jazz and chamber albums like Andrew Hill’s Lift Every Voice and Max Roach’s It’s Time. As McBride points out in his liner notes, this is a personal work filtered through the prism of his own life and his feelings about these four individuals. In that sense, it’s not meant to be taken as a complete representation of the civil rights movement as a whole. It is however, a powerful and deeply considered work that invokes not just the words, but also the ebullient spirit of the civil rights movement.

Matt Collar (AllMusic)