Black Lives- From Generation to Generation
If you had to sum up the work of Black Lives in a single word, it would be’ESSENTIAL’. This large and humanistic ensemble, led by bassist ReggieWashington and his wife Stefany Calembert, is working to fulfill a dream- some would say a utopia – that is as much musical as it is social. Musi-cians from the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe are united by acommon language in their fight for equality and justice. It’s about the fu-ture of our societies, which are lost in the excesses of all-consuming ma-terialism and mistrust of others. A natural convergence of musical andcultural aesthetics – jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, blues – is shaping a declara-tion of love and an act of resistance. Hearts beat fast and fists are raised high! The watchwords call for a world of unity, peace, and freedom. It’s a strong belief in tomorrow. ‘If you unite and struggle, it’s possible to change.’
The strength of Black Lives lies in its ability to unite and transcend the energies of experienced artists,allowing them to use their talents and personalities to serve the group. Each one takes on the role of aleader, offering the collective a personal story fueled by encounters with other artists (Miles Davis, Mes-hell Ndegéocello, Salif Keita, Roy Hargrove, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Esperan-za Spalding…). The collective of musicians, ranging from 30 to 70 years old, offers a rare and beautifulintergenerational synergy. All of them are devoted to a cause that is more fundamental than ever inthese troubled times. Words of hate and racism spread at high speed, threatening to leave indeliblemarks on people’s minds. Their message is clear: ‘One love, one world, one dream, all together.’
AlthoughPeople of Earthis similar in intent toFrom Ge-neration to Generation, it shows a significant evolution.Most of its repertoire was composed during the BlackLives tours of Europe in 2022 and 2023. On their daysoff, the musicians have been working on a new projectrecorded at Quai-Son studio in the Paris region. The re-sult is a cohesive and energetic collection of fifteencompositions, most of them previously unreleased (ex-cept for a cover of Jef Lee Johnson’s ‘Move’ and a newversion of Adam Falcon’s ‘Better Days’). The attentionpaid to sound quality, entrusted to an unchanged teamconsisting of Russell Elevado for sound recording andAlex DeTurk for mastering, is just one of the many qua-lities of a record whose cast is, once again, prestigious. We also welcome the addition of saxophonistPierrick Pédron, who recently collaborated with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Pédron joins a team whosebassist leader values the solidarity of each member. The twenty-six musicians convey the power of mu-sic with a mix of anger, revolt, celebration luminosity,and hope. The album’s graphics, created by RebeccaMeek – who has previously worked onFrom GenerationTo Generation- perfectly illustrate the commitment tostruggle, unity, freedom, and peace. This adventurethrills us with the effects of an underlying force whichevokes the idea of uniting hearts and uplifting spirits. ‘One consciousness’.
This music is beautiful. It’s undoubtedly one of themost beautiful you can imagine. But shouldn’t we say’these musics’? No, because it is received as a single ex-pression, when each composition is imbued with thesame powerful dose of humanity. A music that is bothmultiple and unique, conveying strong sensations. Itcan move you to tears (Stephanie Mckay and her sonEzra Schwarz-Bart’s poignant rendition of ‘I Apologize’,with lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr.), inspire you to work for abetter future (‘On Sèl Rèv’, ‘People of Earth’), raise yourconsciousness (‘Price to Pay’, ‘Think’, ‘Awakening’). Orjust let yourself be swept away by the burning guitarsof Jean-Paul Bourelly (“Jubie’s Jones”) and David Gilmo-re (‘Valley of Kings’). Let yourself fall under the spell ofFederico González Pena’s pulsating keyboards and Gre-gory Privat’s piano, or the soulful sax of Pierrick Pédron, Marcus Strickland or Jacques Schwarz-Bart.Believe in a better future with Adam Falcon. Danceto the rhythm of Marque Gilmore, Gene Lake andSonny Troupé’s percussion, or the scratching of DJGrazzhoppa’s turntables. Whether sung by ChristieDashiell and Tutu Puoane or chanted by Sharrif Sim-mons, you’ll be carefully listening to the words ofBlack Lives, which are a warning to the world and toall people.
Black Lives’ love story continues: this second phase,dedicated to all the children of the world, is full ofgenerosity, passion and promise for the future. Welook forward to experiencing this live, up close andpersonal with the musicians and their vibes. We arealso excited to see what the future holds.
– Denis Desassis
Sheyann Webb on a swing in George Washington Carver Park in Selma, Alabama, during a commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery March. She is a civil rights activist known as Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Smallest Freedom Fighter" (8 years old).
“Taken in as a continuously unfolding experience – the best to hear it – Black Lives suceeds in giving voice to many of divergent origins, each sharing a universal vision of hope and harmony”
– Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes (US)
“Cutting across age, borders and sub-genres this gathering […] is ambitious, to say the least. The wealth of talent assembled on this [record] is something of a contemporary international pantheon of all kinds of improvisers. The clarity of the sound more than fits the urgency of the message.”
– Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise (UK)
“This music speaks loudly; it brings us back to Gil Scott Heron, Archie Shep, The Last Poets, writers such as James Baldwin and so many more. Producer Stephany Calembert has given these Black artists a vital plattform..”
– Glide Magazine (US)