What turned out to be a magical June night in 2012 brought together a diverse array of artists to perform at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center. The music, much of which is captured on this mostly live recording, ranged from creative jazz saxophonist Kidd Jordan blowing the lament, “The Day Coltrane Died” backed by guest luminaries bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake to the celebratory finale “Hallelujah (Praise Song)” joyously sung by Rev. Lois Dejan and her family-filled Johnson Extension.
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While the musicians and styles presented on this album might initially seem worlds apart, they share and express a spirit of unity and hope for a more gentle world. Their vehicle to achieve a Healing Force is music whether it’s the “Stop the Violence” rap of Lucky Lou or the the brighter “When You’re Smiling” sung and intricately scatted by Germaine Bazzle. Vocalist Michaela Harrison and guitarist Amani Johnson offer some soft blues while the Kora Konnection furthers the New Orleans/African ties that were central to the event and thus the album. The rhythms of the continent fill the atmosphere and the messages delivered in spoken word performances by the night’s host, Kalamu ya Salaam, and Carol Bebelle, the Center’s executive director and the CD’s executive producer. No endeavor such as this one would be complete without the involvement of percussionist Luther Gray, the disc’s co-producer, whose group, Bamboula 2000 contributes one of several studio cuts.