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Denys Baptiste

Denys Baptiste

Saxophonist Denys Baptise wears a Sonny Rollins beard and is dressed like a revolutionary, but his military garb belies his inner peace. “I’m in my Zen mode” he beams. A Londoner of St. Lucian parentage, Baptiste is bound for his first complete performance of his Let Freedom Ring! suite, out now on CD via Dune.

Let Freedom Ring! is in four parts, each drawn from a phrase in Martin Luther King’s speech. Baptiste’s intention with the suite was to create a collage of nonmusical genres-including spoken word and video-to rebrand King’s message for today. “There’s a lot of micro-ideas coming in to put across the point that we can all live together,” he explains. One of these is to knit Nigerian poet/novelist Ben Okri’s secular sermon “Mental Fight” into his piece. “Certain people that you meet-they speak or you read what they’ve written and you think, ‘Wow! This is an eternal truth!’ You read bits of ‘Mental Fight’ and realize that he’s actually talking about the same things as King but in the context of 40 years later.”

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