Planting his flag as a soloist and leader, pianist Ray Angry’s contribution to Supreme Sonacy (Vol. 1) is a striking commentary on life that examines the human experience according to the themes of awareness, revolution and awakening. The recording features vocalist Nadia Washington alongside Jeff “Tain” Watts, Chris Potter, James Genus and Daru Jones. The “Celebration of Life Suite” is a sonic watershed that champions the sanctity of life at an opportune time in U.S. history as the humanity of the populace routinely takes a backseat to the preservation of inhumane policy and divisive language bolsters a profoundly traumatic and continuous cycle of violence that does little to honor the country’s founding documents and the basic freedoms that they suggest.

Photo by Deneka Peniston

Photo by Deneka Peniston

Increasingly dependent upon the intellectual and economic poverty of the populace, America has posited itself as a post-racial utopia while playing its part on the world stage with a sustained lack of respect for the plight of its citizens and many international counterparts. That absence of conscience has been translated most effectively by firearms and other lethal instruments that aid in manifesting the heinous agendas of a few hateful people. The lack of introspection plaguing the American narrative at this juncture is a festering accessory of nationalist narcissism that has encouraged a shameful trend of inaction and often finds our leaders wagging their fingers at the gross misconduct and homicidal tendencies of every nation in the world except their own.

Photo by Deneka Peniston

Photo by Deneka Peniston

Summoning the bravery of the artists that stood at the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement decades before, Angry’s booming opus takes the baton from Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone, Langston Hughes and others sickened by the prospect of treading lightly or waiting for permission to be heard. In the span of this production, Angry and Nadia Washington counter the presiding ugliness with a shape-shifting arrangement that bellows and bursts against a defiant refrain. One that suggests, in an era of socio-political regression and artistic cowardice, that the only true weapon of mass destruction is our categorical lack of heart. Here is to life in the wake of nine murders in a Charleston, South Carolina church. Here is to life for each unarmed citizen brave enough to risk life to look riot police in the eye. Here is to life for little children, all of whom deserve the chance to see life’s milestones, tell their stories, and touch the world without having their promise interrupted by a bullet – intentional or errant. Here is to life, as each musician sees fit to breathe it back into the populace. Here is to every revolution – in the streets and on wax, thick with the brutal honesty and abiding love necessary to break down walls, reveal the light and heal the world from within.

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