The Boye Multi-National Crusade for Harmony
New World Records
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In response to the arguably self-righteous pronouncements made in the 1990s as to what jazz is and isn’t, Julius Hemphill (1938–1995) spoke up as he had done throughout his career. “Well, you often hear people nowadays talking about the tradition, tradition, tradition. But they have tunnel vision in this tradition. Because tradition in African-American music is wide as all outdoors.” This collection of music, this celebration of artistic collaborations that engaged Julius Hemphill throughout his life, adds much to what we know of his creativity in exploring the implications in that wide space.
His work, done in what was not much more than twenty-five years, illuminated so many byways of that protean tradition, created in America against the direst of odds. Equally vital, Julius claimed, with great passion, his space to be expressive. He worked inward as much as he looked outward, in his artistic creativity and cultural engagements.
This box set contains musical compositions and performances that have come to light from the Julius Hemphill Archive at the Fales Library of New York University. These performances present thirty-five Hemphill compositions culled from close to 180 audio and visual documents of his work. Twenty-five of these works did not receive a commercial recording in his lifetime. Also represented in this box set are ensemble contexts Julius formed which did not receive substantial, or in some cases, any public documentation. These performances put Julius’s improvisational work as a saxophonist and flutist to the fore, from solo to quintet contexts. (The one exception being Disc 4, where we hear pieces Julius wrote for others to interpret.) Equally important, these performances deepen our experience of Julius’s long associations in artistic collaboration. — Marty Ehrlich (from the liner notes)