Pianist-composer Darrell Grant has assembled an impressive group here. The core trio has John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Also appearing are guitarists Bill Frisell and Adam Rogers, vibraphonist Joe Locke and saxophonist Steve Wilson. Grant's Truth and Reconciliation Project "was inspired by my own search for artistic truth, the struggle for justice and healing in South Africa, and the birth of my son," as he states on his website. "The album celebrates the beauty, courage and the spirit of humanity through music." A sizeable percentage of direct CD sales through his website (http://www.darrellgrant.com/home) will go to three partner non-profits: Mercy Corps, p:ear (assisting homeless and transitional youth) and Artists for the Arts (a Portland, Oregon group dedicated to insuring that the arts remain in education.)
Apropos of the concept, this is sunny and optimistic music full of rich melodies. The program includes nine catchy Grant originals, Dizzy Gillespie's "Algo Bueno," Betty Carter's "Tight," the Kern-Fields standard "The Way You Look Tonight," Sting's "King of Pain" and Sheryl Crow's "I Shall Believe." Grant is also a personable singer; "Resolution of Love," "When I See the Water" and the overdubbed one-man-band "The Geography of Hope (I Am Music)" are fetching performances.
Archival audio of Gandhi, FDR, Nelson Mandela, JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speeches are interwoven through the music. As Grant says in the liners, "I choose to believe in the power of humans to change the world. Art is the substance of our dreams and the medium through which resonates our most fervent hopes, highest aspirations, deepest truths, and most profound experiences." Amen to that. Truth and Reconciliation is both profound and beautiful.