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Ernest Dawkins’ Chicago 12: Misconceptions of a Delusion, Shades of a Charade Celebrating the 35th Annivesary of the Chicago 7 Trial

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Lush orchestration, pithy, even angry solos and fiercely declaimed poetry highlight Ernest Dawkins’ new recording. Reedist Dawkins is a veteran member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and here he addresses the Chicago 7 conspiracy trial, which followed the massive unrest during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. For Dawkins, the trial was an Armageddon between the right to self-determination and the requirement to conform to middle-class standards, and implicitly he sees a parallel situation today (though there is no pivotal trial).

Misconceptions…, a 79-minute live performance, begins with poet Khari B’s declamations that set the scene in Chicago in the late ’60s. His style recalls incendiary verve of Amiri Baraka, particularly his poetry-meets-jazz recordings with David Murray. Dawkins’ orchestrations for the Chicago 12, especially the driving horn arrangements and extended solos, bring Mingus’ ’60s bands to mind, and “Shady Shuffle” has the flair of “My Jelly Roll Soul.”

Jazz musicians rarely delve into the realm of social-protest music, but the track record, including this latest addition, suggests that they should try it more often.