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Musical Tribute to JFK: The Kennedy Dream
     

Musical Tribute to JFK: The Kennedy Dream

by Oliver Nelson
 
When the late President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the world lost not only a prominent politician, but one who truly championed the arts and civil rights. In February of 1967, Oliver Nelson recognized Kennedy's contributions and assembled a big band to play music in his honor, with taped segments of his speeches as preludes. The result is a

Overview

When the late President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the world lost not only a prominent politician, but one who truly championed the arts and civil rights. In February of 1967, Oliver Nelson recognized Kennedy's contributions and assembled a big band to play music in his honor, with taped segments of his speeches as preludes. The result is a heartfelt yet eerie combination, perhaps a bit off-putting, but absolutely relevant decades later. The music is reflective of the changing times as identified by Nelson, ranging from commercial movie score-type music, to soulful or straight-ahead jazz, bop, and the modern big-band sound that the leader, composer, and orchestrator owned. Kennedy's most famous speech about fellow Americans, asking what they can do for their country, is folded into the last track "John Kennedy Memory Waltz" with a string quartet and the regret-tinged alto sax of Phil Woods. The 34th President's oratorios on human rights act as prelude to the soft clarion horns, 7/8 beat, flutes, and vibes, giving way to the modal and serene passages of "Let the Word Go Forth," or the cinematic, military beat, harpsichord-shaded, plucked-guitar-and-streaming-oboe-accented "The Rights of All," which is also reflective of the immortal spiritual song "Wade in the Water." Where "Tolerance" has a similar verbal tone, the mood is much more ethereal between the flutes, oboe, and strings, while the two-minute etude for the first lady and widow, "Jacqueline," is in a loping stride, reflective of how much longer it always took her to get dressed and organized. "A Genuine Peace" is an anthem for all time in a soul-jazz mode that parallels Aaron Copland's Americana moods, while "Day in Dallas" is the expectant, ominous, foreboding calm before the chaos. Nelson's straight-ahead jazz exercise is "The Artists' Rightful Place," a spoken word tonic for musical troops in a bop framework that has the horn section jumping for joy. As always, Nelson surrounds himself with the very best musicians like Woods and Phil Bodner in the reed section, tuba player Don Butterfield, bassist George Duvivier, pianist Hank Jones, and all produced by Bob Thiele. Now reissued on CD some 40 years later, it's a stark reminder of how one man can positively influence the human condition aside from politics and corporate greed, and how another can change his world musically.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/11/2009
Label:
Impulse Records
UPC:
0602527069999
catalogNumber:
001256202
Rank:
60441

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Oliver Nelson   Primary Artist,Conductor
Phil Bodner   English Horn
Hank Jones   Piano
Grady Tate   Drums
George Duvivier   Bass
Don Butterfield   Tuba
John F. Kennedy   Vocals
Phil Woods   Alto Saxophone

Technical Credits

Oliver Nelson   Arranger,Composer
Bobby Arnold   Engineer
Large Orchestra   Contributor
Bob Thiele   Producer
George Hoefer   Liner Notes
Victor Kalin   Cover Painting
Hollis King   Art Direction
Joe Lebow   Liner Design
Robert Flynn   Cover Design
Bob Arnold   Engineer

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