Based on the life of African-American abolitionist and woman’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, and her 1851 speech titled “Ain’t I A Woman?” in support of women’s suffrage, bassist Avery Sharpe has created a vibrant album of protest music, so often characterized by a potent mix of political/social activism, fiercely driven music, and heart-on-the-sleeve celebratory hopefulness.
Your album personnel: Avery Sharpe (bass), Onaje Allan Gumbs (piano), Yoron Israel (drums), Craig Handy (saxophones), Duane Eubanks (trumpet), and Jeri Brown (vocals).
This is music that echoes the voices of Archie Shepp’s Cry Of My People and Max Roach’s We Insist! This is shout up to the heavens music that simultaneously induces listeners to swing swing swing down here on the temporal plane.
This is music whose blood is thick as the Blues. When Handy’s sax and Brown’s voice combine, it’s to express a cathartic weariness. The piano of Gumbs’ embodies a willingness to find the humor in difficult times. Eubanks’ trumpet is evidence that there’s still plenty of fight left. The drums of Israel are the virtue of patience. Sharpe’s bass is the model of resiliency.
This is music that has the heart of Jazz. Music that sometimes swings light on its feet, sometimes with a soul heavy with the weight of the world, music that sometimes finds a rich groove, music that can wail and moan, but most of all, this is strong music that knows how to sing. On “Truth Be Told,” Sharpe switches between a salt-of-the-earth undercurrent and fluttering bird lightness, and it exemplifies so much of the music on this album.
Beaten down by Hard Times, but never giving up the fight to Raise Up and speak. So as it was with Sojourner Truth, so as it is with Avery Sharpe’s excellent recording.
Here’s a link to a Wikipedia entry on Sojourner Truth.
Released on the JKNM Records label, which is Sharpe’s own label.
Jazz from the Amherst, MA scene.