Quinerly's debut release Music Inspired By Freedmantown will hit the streets on Sept. 18th and explores a significant time in American history without the angry polarization or unnecessary political rhetoric some artists have opted for this year.
Freedmantown was a largely forgotten if not over looked African American neighborhood established by emancipated slaves following the Civil War. Quinerly pays appropriate homage to the history and struggles of this neighborhood and of its population at a time of great uncertainty. While I would be less than honest if I didn't mention I prefer to keep my jazz, social commentary and political opinions in separate areas, this is an inspiring story of a forgotten time and place in history that people would do well to remember and for that my respect for Quinerly's conceptual nature of this work is equal to if not greater than the artistic triumph soon to be released.
There are two standards that Reggie Quinerly and this magnificent ensemble cast simply nail and those are "I'm Old Fashioned" and "Sentimental Journey" with the musical irony is that no two standards better fit the ebb and flow of this release. The opening tune "A Corner View from Robin Street" is pure gold as a salute to this area located in Houston Texas. Quinerly plays with great finesse alternating from a more familiar Texas shuffle to that of a lyrically intense swing groove. Music with an absolute sense of purpose and deeper meaning and you begin to find yourself immersed in the story. A former editor would caution me not to tell the reader what to expect however a shared perspective in most appropriate in this context given the subject matter. "Fenster" is a personal favorite, a blues infused gem that features Tim Warfield, Gerald Clayton and guitarist Mike Moreno. Quinerly owns the pocket as his solo is laid out over Vincente Archer's walking bass line. This is passion you can feel. "Live From Last Row" while not relating directly to Freedmantown is in fact a bossa nova inspired tune showcasing Quinerly's prolific talent as a composer. "Victoria" was created with rising star Sarah Elizabeth Charles in mind and dedicated to his sister, Verrene Vicoria Quinerly. Gerald Clayton joins Charles on this tune as a duet.
What makes this release so incredibly impressive as a debut recording is tacking historically significant subject matter while retaining an air of accessibility and the ability to establish a connective link with the listener. Music From Freedmantown is essentially Reggie Quinerly giving something back to the community he grew up in. If this is the way Reggie Quinerly pays his debts then its no wonder he is being shown mad love from his contemporaries and his musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up! It would be an incredibly easy thing to turn a project of this nature into a polarizing self indulgent platform but instead Quinerly's gift transforms this music into a historical celebration of a time and place neither he nor anyone should forget.
An epic start for a rising star!
Tracks: #13 A Corner View From Robin Street; Live From The Last Row; Freedmantown; Fenster; Freedmantown Interlude; #2 Xylent Letters; A Portrait Of A Southern Frame; The Virginia Gentleman; Victoria; I'm Old Fashioned; Sentiment Journey.
Personnel: Reqgie Quinerly: drums, percussion; Tim Warfield: tenor saxophone (1,4,6,8,10,11); Mike Moreno: guitar ( 2,4,6,11); Gerald Clayton: piano ( except 3,5); Vicente Archer: bass, electric bass ( except 9); Antoine Drye: trumpet (3,7); Matt Parker: tenor saxophone (3,7); Corey King: trombone (3,7); Enoch Smith Jr.: organ, piano, vocals, arranger and lyricist on Freedmantown (3,5); Sarah Elizabeth Charles: vocals (9)