Bassist Gregg August has released a new album, Dialogues on Race.
August actually composed Dialogues on Race as a performance suite for The Jazz Gallery in 2009. After premiering it in April that year, he shelved it, and “even [forgot] about it to some degree,” he said in a statement.
“I suspected deep down that ‘the progress’ we had supposedly made as a country might prove to be fleeting,” August said. “After all, this is America. We are not known for knowing history, especially our own… Little by little we started to see the veneer being stripped away. We went from Barack, to birtherism, to an unapologetic xenophobe enter the White House. Who could have imagined such a chronology, and in so short a period of time?”
August, wary of discussions of cultural appropriation, especially surrounding the murder of Emmett Till (one of the central concerns of Dialogues on Race), was eventually persuaded to revisit and record the suite. A few of the compositions provide the foundation for narration of various texts by Fransisco Alarcón, Marilyn Nelson, Carolyn Kizer and Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till. Others are inspired by poems by Langston Hughes, Cornelius Eady, Maya Angelou and Katrovas.
“My hope is that Dialogues on Race can in some small way serve as an integrated musical bridge to awareness, and maybe even stand as an affirmation against racism and injustice,” August wrote in his statement. “Admittedly, these are lofty goals. However, through conversation, community and art, I know we can work together towards furthering understanding.”
Stream Dialogues on Race below: