Last week, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith released Rosa Parks: Pure Love. An Oratorio of Seven Songs, a tribute to the late civil rights icon.
Smith’s 71-minute composition is performed by three vocalists, a double-quartet—RedKoral Quartet on strings and BlueTrumpet Quartet on trumpet—and a drummer with electronics. The texts in the oratorio are written by Smith himself, with the exception of “No Fear,” which features writing by Parks herself.
The composition was first performed—in an earlier version—in 2016, the same year Smith had begun writing it. But Parks, who is most well-known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott of the mid-’50s, has been an inspiration to Smith for far longer than that: His 2008 live album with the Golden Quartet, Tabligh, features a song named after her.