Calvin Massey (1928-1972) is virtually unknown with the exception of both highly knowledgeable jazz scholars and a small coterie of illustrious musicians who remain alive and were immensely indebted to Massey s musical influence and mentorship. Massey was a father figure and close friend to many of the greatest jazz musicians of the post-World War era until his early death in 1972. Massey was a trumpeter, but was most noted as a composer of magisterial works, of which his epic opus was The Black Liberation Movement Suite, an extended work of nine movements. Until now, the work had never been recorded in its entirety. Cal Massey ranked among the greatest jazz composers of the 20th century, included with Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra. The Black Liberation Movement Suite is one of the undiscovered gems of an epic jazz extended work. It perhaps may be regarded through the exposure of this recording release as one of the greatest jazz suites of the 20th century, joining Mingus Epitaph, Let My Children Music and The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, the major Ellington suites and extended form works (the Sacred Concerts, The Liberian Suite, The Drum is a Woman, etc.), Oliver Nelson s The Afro-American Suite, and the varying cosmo-dramas of Sun Ra. While of considerable musical and artistic grandeur as these other great extended works, The BLM Suite is also a work of considerable socio-political significance, commissioned by the Black Panther Party and musically and ideologically expressing the revolutionary upsurge of the Black Liberation struggle in the U.S. during the late-1960s. Three other Massey compositions are featured herein. Quiet Dawn was composed for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Goodbye Sweet Pops is an homage to Louis Armstrong. Finally, The Cry of My People epitomizes Cal s compositional energy for combining the soulfulness of Spiritual-like melody with bold and complex harmonic structures.
The Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute
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