Every week, we share a specially curated playlist featuring some of the best new jazz music, plus a few classics. This week, we’re going to do something a little different, bringing you a special Fourth of July playlist. From patriotic tracks to activist protest songs, here is a selection of classic and criminally overlooked tracks for you to discover or re-discover on this day!
We aptly begin our playlist with Louis Armstrong, traditionally born on this day, performing a version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following, Herbie Mann’s amazing workout on the old American Civil War anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” from Memphis Underground. Next, the opening track from Wynton Marsalis’ The Democracy! Suite, performed with a septet of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Then, Charlie Haden and Carla Bley’s activist take on “America the Beautiful,” an impactful statement from 2005’s Liberation Music Orchestra’s Not in Our Name.
Billie Holiday elevates to art Teddy Wilson’s take on the novelty song “Yankee Doodle Never Went to Town,” recorded in 1935. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” makes a second appearance in this playlist, reimagined by Oscar Peterson’s trio with Milt Jackson as a celebration of radical abolitionist John Brown. Next, a recent amazing version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black National Anthem, performed by the historic Preservation Jazz Hall Band and heard in the 2020 award-winning documentary MLK/FBI. Following, Gregory Porter’s performance of “America the Beautiful” from the live broadcast send-off of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. Closing our playlist, Leonard Bernstein’s orchestral performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which remains to this day in the eyes of the world one of the most majestic works in American music history.
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