It's been a dozen years since Christian McBride was commissioned by the Portland (Maine) Arts Society to write a piece for jazz group and gospel choir.
And since then "The Movement Revisited," an homage to the civil rights leadership of Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, has become an sweeping work that will be both presented and recorded in Detroit and Ann Arbor this weekend.
"Detroit was such an important place during the civil rights movement, so it's an appropriate place for this piece to call home," says the 37-year-old bassist and composer who was the Detroit International Jazz Festival's 2008 Artist in Residence. "Certainly the riots of 1967...was a moment that really made people wake up and say, 'Wow, there really [i]is[/i] a problem in this country.
"And of course there were so many people who were a direct part of (the movement). Rosa Parks made Detroit her home for many, many years. Newark, Chicago, Watts -- all of these cities were very important to the civil rights movement, and Detroit is right there with them."
"The Movement Revisited" has undergone a number of changes since McBride was commissioned, some of which will be unveiled this weekend when it's performed with his quintet, the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, a choir and narrators. In addition to the tweaked passages dedicated to each of the personalities, McBride has written a fifth section inspired by the election of President Barack Obama and focusing on the idea that "the fight's not over."
"I wanted to write some type of culmination of all four of those voices and what happened after the civil rights movement," explains McBride, who will record the piece at both concerts this weekend and during afternoon rehearsals. It will be released later this year by Harper Woods-based Mack Avenue Records. "It's not directly saluting President Obama; he's only been in office a year, so we'll give him some time before we write a tribute to him.
"But election night is something people all over the world will never forget, and I think that was a direct result of what all four of those (other) people and their peers did. It was an amazing, amazing event, but we've still got a whole lot of work to do. However you translate that feeling in the music, that's what I'm trying to do."
Christian McBride's "The Movement Revisited" will be performed and recorded at 8 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 13) at the University of Michigan Jazz Festival in the Power Center For the Performing Arts, 121 Fletcher St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25, $20 and $15. Call 734-763-8587 or visit www.music.umich.edu. It will also be performed and recorded at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 14) at the Second Ebenezer Church, 14601 Dequindre, Detroit. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. Call 313-447-1248 or visit www.detroitjazzfest.com/movement.
Send your thoughts and comments to