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Blue Note to Release Wynton Marsalis’ Original Score to PBS Documentary on Boxer Jack Johnson

Available from Blue Note records on November 30 is Unforgivable Blackness, Wynton Marsalis’ original score to the upcoming Ken Burns documentary of same name. The film marks the second collaboration between filmmaker Burns and Marsalis (pictured), the first being 2000’s Jazz series, where Marsalis held the position of Senior Creative Consultant.

Unforgivable Blackness tells the story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight Boxing World Champion, and is given historical context from 21 compositions covering pre-modern genres like blues, ragtime and Dixieland, where the ensembles’ embellishments and collective improvisations sound remarkably accurate.

The album boasts 15 original Marsalis compositions, including 13 new and previously unreleased recordings. Unforgivable also features six interpretations of standards including Jelly Roll Morton’s “New Orleans Bump,” “Deep Creek” and “Buddy Bolden’s Blues.” W.C. Handy’s “Careless Love,” Artie Matthews’ “Weary Blues” and “We’ll Meet Again Someday” also appear.

The sessions were produced by Burns, Paul Barnes and Delfeayo Marsalis. The latter returns along with pianist Eric Lewis from Wynton’s The Magic Hour, a quartet album released earlier this year and the trumpeter’s first for Blue Note following a 20-year tenure with Columbia Records. Also featured in the Unforgivable sessions are saxophonists Wess Anderson and Sherman Irby, guitarist and banjoist Doug Wamble, banjoist Don Vappie, clarinetist Victor Goines, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, drummer Herlin Riley and bassists Regineald Veal and Rodney Whitaker.

For more information on the film and album, visit the following Web sites: PBS and Blue Note.

Originally Published