This is my humble attempt to pay tribute to the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to documenting my present trio for the first time (on three trio tracks and underpinning the rest), the rest of the wonderful musicians here are a mix of old friends, new friends, former teachers and former students. The music is triumphant at times and edgy at other times, and these musicians brought a wonderful spirit to the proceedings.
Robin Eubanks | trombone (2, 6, 11)
Steve Wilson | alto saxophone (2, 6, 11)
Wayne Escoffery | tenor saxophone (6, 11) and soprano saxophone (2, 5, 8, 9)
Jimmy Greene | tenor saxophone (2, 5, 9, 11) and flute (6, 8)
Claire Daly | baritone saxophone (2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11)
Warren Smith | marimba (2, 11)
Amanda Monaco | guitar (2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11)
Rebecca Koval | guitar (7)
Noah Baerman | piano
Henry Lugo | bass
Vinnie Sperrazza | drums, tambourine (9)
Tigger Benford, Marcos Torres, III | percussion (2, 8, 11)
Recorded November 17 and December 12, 2004 at Peter Karl Studios, Brooklyn, N.Y.
“The music is neither elegiac nor funereal; instead, this is soul music of the first degree. From the opening notes of the traditional African American spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" to the celebratory bounce of Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday," the music is filled with infectious energy and joy. Many of the tracks feature a large ensemble comprising some of the finest musicians on the scene. . . . "Washington 1963" is a bluesy tribute to King's "I Have A Dream" speech that pulses with promise and features a tenor sax solo from Greene and Escoffery's soulful soprano sax lines. Baerman's wife, Kate Ten Eyck, co-authored two of the disk's 11 songs, including the blazing "Memphis, 1968." This music not only celebrates King's life but also his message of non-violent confrontation and burns with the fire of love.”
- Hartford Courant
"A gregarious energy triumphs through pianist Noah Baerman’s compositions. Jubilant and free at their core, they prosper with a stamina similar to that which propelled Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on his mission toward human equality and understanding. Baerman’s new album Soul Force was inspired by King and with three tracks named for significant events in the Civil Rights movement, it exists as a musical history while reminding listeners of the relevance of King’s message almost four decades after his death. Rife with the fervor of the place and time it’s named for, “Montgomery 1956” highlights the group’s ability to play together."
- All About Jazz, NY
"Baerman’s efforts cover an entire spectrum of emotions, ranging from large instrumental ensembles to trios in conveying powerful musical images of joy, devotion, passion, brooding and sadness, but finishing with hope."
- Nuvo (Indianapolis, IN)
"It's clear that Baerman is a talent worth noting, and this is a worthy effort."
- Jazz Scene (Portland, OR)