Humanities is a striking, distinctive record, but in one respect it is representative of a recent trend in American art generally, and in jazz specifically. In press notes, pianist David Ake identifies the “context” for the album: “the tragedy and travesty of this nation’s current political situation.”
The role of politics in art is a large and complicated controversy. From one perspective, all jazz is social protest music. But there has arguably never been a time when so many jazz albums made political statements. In the Trump era, jazz musicians feel compelled to acknowledge our “current tragedy” in their music, not only in anger or despair, but often as an offering of hope for renewal.