Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

by Wynton Marsalis
     
 

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Unforgivable Blackness embodies Wynton Marsalis' soundtrack for a forthcoming Ken Burns biographical documentary on Jack Johnson, the African-American boxer whose reign as heavyweight champion in the early 20th century aroused intense hostility among whites. Mixing originals with classic blues and jazz from the period, Marsalis and his septet create a soulful,See more details below

Overview

Unforgivable Blackness embodies Wynton Marsalis' soundtrack for a forthcoming Ken Burns biographical documentary on Jack Johnson, the African-American boxer whose reign as heavyweight champion in the early 20th century aroused intense hostility among whites. Mixing originals with classic blues and jazz from the period, Marsalis and his septet create a soulful, sophisticated statement that Johnson -- who carried a bass on his travels, owned cabarets in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, and was on intimate terms with various levels of the "sporting life" -- would have had no trouble understanding. Strains of the deep blues, ragtime, brass bands, and second line permeate the aura, and the spirits of Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington are never far from view. Separated from the images and narrative of the documentary, the music has a programmatic feel. But Marsalis has transmuted an old vocabulary into a tellingly modern argot that feeds the mind and nourishes the spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Collar
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' soundtrack to Ken Burns' documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson is a compelling and rootsy mix of blues and swing. Having worked with Burns on the PBS Jazz series, Marsalis' Unforgivable Blackness soundtrack seems like a natural progression of a fruitful partnership. Not dissimilar to such past Marsalis projects as the Jelly Roll Morton album Mr. Jelly Lord, the album features Marsalis in various small-group settings along with such longtime Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra regulars as drummer Herlin Riley, pianist Eric Lewis, saxophonist Wessell Anderson, bassist Reginald Veal, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, and others, including guitarist Doug Wamble, who adds his unique blend of old-time blues, folk, and jazz to Marsalis' own signature updating of '20s and '30s jazz. Although four previously released tracks appear here, two off Standard Time, Vol. 6: Mr. Jelly Lord and two from Marsalis' Reeltime, the majority of the album is newly recorded and all of it sounds of a piece. Ironically, Marsalis' deepest musical influence and aesthetic nemesis, trumpeter Miles Davis, also recorded an album for a film about the troubled boxing champ Johnson, 1970's fusion classic Tribute to Jack Johnson. However, where Davis' album seemed to reflect the counterculture and Black Power movements of the time, Marsalis is more traditionally cinematic in his approach, with each track evoking the pride, urbanity, strength, and tragedy of the legendary Johnson.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/30/2004
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0724386419422
catalogNumber:
64194

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. What Have You Done?  - Wynton Marsalis
  2. Ghost in the House  - Wynton Marsalis
  3. Jack Johnson Two-Step  - Wynton Marsalis
  4. But Deep Down  - Wynton Marsalis
  5. Love & Hate  - Wynton Marsalis
  6. High Society  - Wynton Marsalis
  7. Careless Love  - Wynton Marsalis
  8. New Orleans Bump  - Wynton Marsalis
  9. Trouble My Soul  - Wynton Marsalis
  10. Deep Creek  - Wynton Marsalis
  11. The Johnson 2-Step  - Wynton Marsalis
  12. Rattlesnake Tail Swing  - Wynton Marsalis
  13. Weary Blues  - Wynton Marsalis
  14. Troubles My Soul  - Wynton Marsalis
  15. Johnson Two-Step  - Wynton Marsalis
  16. Fire in the Night  - Wynton Marsalis
  17. Morning Song  - Wynton Marsalis
  18. I'll Sing My Song  - Wynton Marsalis
  19. Buddy Bolden's Blues  - Wynton Marsalis
  20. The Last Bell  - Wynton Marsalis
  21. We'll Meet Again Someday  - Wynton Marsalis

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Wynton Marsalis   Primary Artist,Trumpet
Michael White   Clarinet
Eric Reed   Piano
Herlin Riley   Drums,Tambourine
Reginald Veal   Bass,Double Bass,Upright Bass
Wessell Anderson   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Lucien Barbarin   Trombone
Kimati Dinizulu   Percussion
Victor Goines   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet,Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Wycliffe Gordon   Trombone,Tuba
Don Vappie   Banjo,Guitar
Marcus Printup   Trumpet
Sherman Irby   Clarinet
Eric Lewis   Percussion,Piano,Washboard
Stephen Riley   Tenor Saxophone
Gideon Feldstein   Clarinet,Bass Clarinet
Doug Wamble   Banjo,Guitar
Sam Karam   Clarinet

Technical Credits

Jelly Roll Morton   Composer
W.C. Handy   Composer
Paul Barnes   Producer,Audio Production
Ken Burns   Producer,Liner Notes,Audio Production
Martha E. Koenig   Composer
Wynton Marsalis   Composer,Score
Delfeayo Marsalis   Producer
Patrick Smith   Engineer
Todd Whitelock   Engineer
Spencer Williams   Composer
Sandy Palmer Grassi   Engineer
Artie Matthews   Composer
Jalmoose Rowe   Producer,Engineer
Geoffrey C. Ward   Liner Notes
Steven Epstein   Producer
David Schaye   Audio Production

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