Monday, March 11, 2013

Anthony Branker & Word Play Uppity

Anthony Branker UppityI'll go ahead and start heads exploding from the very start. Uppity is a good release, no doubt and no debate on this with the underlying perception that taste is subjective and dependent on the audience the work may be geared to.

The liner notes/press release state that in regards to the killing of Trayvon Martin it was due to what/who he looked like? Really??? Where is the evidence or proof of this conjecture? Unnecessary force? Sure...When in doubt stay in your home and call the cops as that is what they are paid to do - trained professionals. This young man was 17 and stood over 6 feet tall and weighed roughly 200 lbs if all news reports are correct. There were wounds to the back of the head of the person that shot him. Let us also not forget the pot found in Martin's system...Sound like a good kid to you? Want your daughter to date a pot smoker? I realize some would not care as long as she was out of the house so let your conscious be your guide. To stir the emotional pot on pure conjecture and without cold hard facts is simply wrong on more levels than I have time to print here. What happened was a tragedy pure and simple. Let the court system sort out guilt or innocence while Martin's parents attempt to trademark his name and engage in numerous other activities to apparently turn a quick dollar. What I am saying is not popular but...it is the truth, it is documented, and if it makes you think then I have done my job.

Back to the release in question, Uppity with the photo of the young black child is to make you think as well. Draw your own conclusions. If a six foot person that out weighs me comes at me in a fashion that leads me to believe my safety is in danger and I am carrying then sadly you do what you have to do. Politically charged music on any level and in regards to any party affiliation is biased, divisive and simply does not serve the common good. Even President Obama has never and let me repeat never made his race an issue. While I did not vote for the man, I applaud his integrity in at least attempting to allow his actions to speak for themselves.

The band here is superb with Ralph Bowen on tenor, Peter Eli Asher on trumpet, Andy Hunter on trumpet and keyboard, pianist Jim Ridle and Donald Edwards on drums. The music on Uppity takes aim (out of necessity according to the release) at intolerance, hate, and prejudice. Oddly enough President Obama had plans to address these issues and the country is more divided than ever. The funk infused "Let's Conversate!" and "Dance Like No One Is Watching" welcome you to the land of rhythm and groove. "Across the Divide" is a 3/4 swing set off against African rhythms and is as infectious as it is energetic.

From a purely musical standpoint - 4.5 stars...
From an incendiary conceptual standpoint that does literally nothing in terms of offering concrete solutions - 3.0 stars.

Let us give it a 3.5 and call it a push. A release that will play to a limited audience due to the conceptual nature and caustic rhetoric associated with this topic. I realize this review will win me no friends but as a critic - it is part of the gig.

Tracks: Let's Conversate; Dance Like No One Is Watching; Three Gifts; Across The Divide; Uppity; Ballad for Trayvon Martin.

Additional musicians not mentioned include Charmaine Lee: vocals (3) and Anthony Branker as composer and musical director.