Formerly a pianist with singer Betty Carter, Grant dipped for a while with Verve-Forecast into funk and worldbeat. Now a professor on the jazz faculty at Portland State, he offers here a lesson in how to interlace not just genres, but politics and music, in a way that's powerful rather than preachy. Working with a superb lineup--John Patitucci on bass, Brian Blade on drums, Bill Frisell and Adam Rogers on guitar, and Joe Locke on vibesˇGrant stirs traditional jazz, global rhythms, gospel, pop, and excerpts from famous speeches into a memorable m╚lange. He risks aesthetic impurity and political gimmickry in combining Gandhi, FDR, Nelson Mandela, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Jerome Kern, and a half-dozen other compositional and oratorical elements. But the risks generally pay off and then some. His arrangement of "The Way You Look Tonight" brings out the awed humility of exquisite beauty absorbed and makes you hear this sweet standard anew. The Gandhi speech in "Ubuntu," FDR's "Four Freedoms" in "Resolution of Love," and Mandela's 1964 words in "When I See the Water" bring out the musicality of the rhetoric, and the inherent wishful purpose in the music. Sting has often had at least one foot in jazz and it's only fitting to return the favor with a graceful lunge into pop. "King of Pain" here rings like a rebirth of the cool. I like Crow, but she never made me weepy performing her own tunes. JFK's inaugural address and Dr. King's "Mountaintop" and "Dream" speeches, set to Crow's "I Shall Believe," did. This is an ambitious, heartfelt, heady album that rewards attentive listening.