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Bobby Watson & the “I Have a Dream” Project: Check Cashing Day

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Bobby Watson may seem an unlikely firebrand, but that doesn’t mean he lacks political consciousness. The veteran alto saxophonist’s new album celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech simultaneously chides society for the many ways in which that dream remains deferred. The first two tracks set the tone for what’s to follow, straight-up instrumental jazz alternating with spoken-word versions of Watson compositions, the gently swinging “Sweet Dreams” leading to the title track and its linking of two slain Martins, King and Trayvon. Poet Glenn North was enlisted by Watson to write and recite words to Watson’s music, some having earlier music-only incarnations. Watson’s wife, vocalist Pamela Baskin-Watson, contributes a highlight, “Seekers of the Sun (Son),” and bassist Curtis Lundy offers two others. The band is rounded out by trumpeter Hermon Mehari, pianist Richard Johnson, drummer Eric Kennedy and, on select tracks, Horace Washington on flute and Karita Carter on trombone.

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