Sax man Bobby Watson on MLK: Check Cashing Day
A disc now residing in the KUVO library of current releases is Check Cashing Day, by saxophonist Bobby Watson and the "I Have a Dream Project."
The title comes from the first half of the "I Have a Dream" speech, in which Dr. King pointed out the 100 year lag from the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington in 1963. "We've come to cash a check," King said.
The disc contains six straight ahead jazz instrumentals, and seven spoken word pieces, plus a couple of vocals anchored by Pamela Baskin-Watson, who seems to implore the civil rights promise "we shall overcome" in the song "Seekers of the ?Sun."
Bobby Watson told me it was a calculated risk for him to include so much spoken word content, but it's a theme album he wanted to put out.
Kansas City poet Glenn North is featured throughout the CD, sharp of tongue and of concept, particularly on the track "My Song," where he turns the symbols violence upside down.
The tone of the poetry conveys both complaint and hope. Baskin Watson and her saxophonist husband take it to church on the final track, Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday."
Watson, a music professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, is happy with the feedback so far, especially from college radio. He said students can relax with earlier struggles out of the discussion for a couple of decades. But history can repeat itself if we're not careful.
NOTE: Bobby Watson performs at Mount Vernon Country Club on Feb. 27, 2014.