BC jazz students will show the connection between jazz and the Civil Rights Movement in their final concert of the semester Monday evening.
The concert, titled “I Hope in Time a Change Will Come,” recognizes the themes of social justice, civil rights and freedom as expressed in the work of major 20th-century jazz composers.
“It’s been a history lesson for the students on top of our usual concert preparations,” jazz studies director Kris Tiner wrote in an email. “I’ve been so pleased with their dedication and the seriousness they’ve put into this program.”
Monday’s program features the BC Jazz Ensemble performing such pointed and poignant compositions as Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus,” a biting protest song criticizing Arkansas Gov. Orval E. Faubus, who, in 1957 deployed National Guardsmen to block nine African American teens from attending Little Rock Central High School; and “Tutu,” by Marcus Miller, a salute to Bishop Desmond Tutu, who preached against South Africa’s apartheid system. Oliver Nelson’s “I Hope in Time a Change Will Come,” which inspired the name of the concert, is one of the tracks of his album-long tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. called “A Dream Deferred.”
The concert also includes two pieces by Duke Ellington, including “Come Sunday,” a 20th-century spiritual from his suite, Black, Brown and Beige, composed in 1942.
Although there is no direct tribute to him, Tiner said this concert is connected to the college’s semester-long celebration of the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who was recognized by King as an inspiration for his nonviolent approach to civil rights activism.
“(Gandhi’s) legacy is clear in the American civil rights movement which intertwines with the history of jazz in the work of Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Oliver Nelson,” Tiner wrote. “Each of these composers brought forth their music from an elevated social consciousness.”
Tiner said the concert will open with a small-group set featuring five of the program's second-year students. Normally, the small groups perform in a separate concert, but there were too many groups to fit in that concert, which took place on Nov. 2.
“At the pace that the program is growing, we will have to add a separate jazz recital next year,” Tiner wrote.