Christopher Parker & Kelley Hurt - “Jubilate” (Official Audio)
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“Jubilate” comes from the No Tears Suite album being released by Mahakala Music in conjunction with Oxford American, out September 25th, 2020.


In September 1957, 61 years after the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy vs. Ferguson, in Little Rock, Arkansas, nine Black high school students finally broke through the threshold of Little Rock Central High School after a month of facing protestors and blockades by the Arkansas National Guard. No Tears Suite, composed by Arkansas-native and music teacher Christopher Parker and his wife, jazz vocalist Kelley Hurt was initially written to commemorate and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine’s historic enrollment and their continued courage and fortitude, which has inspired every generation thereafter.

When the piece premiered in September 2017, the group of Grammy award-winning drummer Brian Blade, bassist Bill Huntington, trumpeter Marc Franklin, and saxophonists Bobby LaVell (tenor) and Chad Fowler (alto) was so successful in communicating Hurt and Parker’s vision, that the composers began to explore how they could continue to expand the No Tears Suite. Their solution manifested itself in a new collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, with the incomparable, Grammy-nominated arranger, composer, and bassist Rufus Reid penning the orchestral arrangements, flawlessly infusing the sweeping grandeur of the ASO’s 16-piece ensemble into the No Tears Suite. Concurrent with the release of the studio album, a bonus free live recording of the No Tears Suite conducted by Geoffrey Robson features the jazz septet alongside a sixteen-piece Arkansas Symphony Orchestra chamber ensemble, and will be available in streaming format only. This live recording from March 2019 at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock, Arkansas features expanded orchestral arrangements of the suite written by and featuring GRAMMY nominated arranger, composer, and bassist Rufus Reid.

Largely inspired and informed by the memoir Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, a member of the Little Rock Nine, the music of No Tears Suite reflects the resilience of those students as they ascended the steps of Central High School in 1957 and shifted the course of American history. The tension of inequality and oppression felt by these students is felt on “Roll Call,” as Hurt details the lives of those involved Little Rock Nine and others involved in Arkansas’, and America’s, educational integration over an unsettled and lamenting pool of instrumentation. But ultimately, No Tears Suite emphasizes emotions of power and joy, highlighting the significant progress and lasting brightness the Little Rock Nine brought to Arkansas and the country. “Jubilate” bounces and uplifts, and “Don’t Cry (Warrior’s Song)” struts with a confidence and strength—similar to Mingus’ composition on the same subject matter, “Fables of Faubus,"—Hurt sings words of grit and motivation over the soulful swing: “Beaten, bruised, yeah you refused / there are no cowards here.”

No Tears Suite never loses sight of the astounding humanity of the nine students that prompted the piece in the first place. In speaking on the development of the music, Parker said, “We just wanted to put the spotlight on those kids… how can anyone not be proud of those kids?”

Written by members of the Little Rock community, for the Little Rock-based literary magazine, Oxford American, about a pivotal moment in the city's civil rights history, No Tears Suite is the result of and a testament to a community that believes in celebration, perseverance, and growth, and serves as an enduring reminder of the progress made and the progress still required.

Christopher Parker - composition, piano
Kelley Hurt - composition, vocals
Brian Blade - drums
Bill Huntingon - bass
Bobby LaVell - tenor saxophone
Marc Franklin - Trumpet
Chad Fowler - alto saxophone
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