Herbie Hancock’s 1983 “Future Shock” album.
Jazz artists have been reflecting political issues in their music from the beginning. These have included everything from human rights to the environment. With Earth Day being celebrated this week on April 22, I thought it would be fitting to do an updated “Earth Day” playlist featuring Jazz pieces with an environmental theme. I’ve had no trouble finding pieces to play for Earth Day on my radio shows over the years and some of those compositions are listed below.
This year marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, which started back in 1970 when ecological awareness was just beginning to take hold. Many events worldwide will be held, focusing of the environment. The Earth Day Network works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries.
Below is a diverse list of Jazz recordings I assembled that echo what Earth Day is all about. This music inspires us to think about the of natural world and the future of the planet.
List is in alphabetical order: Artist / Title / Album
Mose Allison / The Earth Wants You/ The Earth Wants You
Mulatu Astatke / Green Africa / Mulatu Steps Ahead
Kris Bowers / The Protester / Heroes and Misfits
Cinematic Orchestra / Ode to the Big Sea / Motion
John Coltrane / After the Rain / Impressions
Miles Davis / Gondwana / Pangaea
Pangaea is a double album recorded by Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and released in 1976 in Japan. It was recorded live in Osaka, Japan in 1975. Personnel includes Miles Davis, trumpet and organ, Sonny Fortune, saxophones and flute, Pete Cosey, guitar, Michael Henderson, bass, Reggie Lucas, guitar, Al Foster, drums and Mtume on percussion.
Kenny Garrett / Welcome Earth Song / Seeds from the Underground
Cameron Graves / Satania Our Solar System / Plantetary Prince
Cameron Graves is the pianist for award-winning saxophonist Kamasi Washington and will be performing at the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival. Planetary Prince is the name of his new album on Detroit’s own Mack Avenue Records.
Herbie Hancock / Earthbeat / Future Shock
Released in 1983, Future Shock is pianist Herbie Hancock’s thirty-fifth album which was a million-selling Platinum disc that contained his hit “Rock It”. It was the first release from his electro-funk era and an early example of instrumental hip hop.
Jamiroqai / Emergency on Planet Earth / Emergency on Planet Earth
Keith Jarrett / Solara March / Arbour Zena
Arbour Zena is an album composed by American pianist Keith Jarrett featuring saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Charlie Haden and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mladen Gutesha which was released on the ECM label in 1975.
Les McCann / Burnin’ Coal / Much Les
Larry McCray / Delta Hurricane / Delta Hurricane
Jackie McLean / Rhythm of the Earth / Rhythm of the Earth
Pat Metheny / Rain River / Secret Story
Jim Pepper / Witchi Tai To / Comin’ and Goin’
Flora Purim / The Goddess of Thunder / Speed of Light
Pharoah Sanders / The Creator Has a Master Plan / Karma
Tribe featuring Phil Ranelin / Livin’ in a New Day/ Rebirth
McCoy Tyner / Atlantis / Atlantis
Nana Vasconcelos / Rain Dance / Rain Dance
Sarah Vaughn / On a Clear Day / Live in Japan
Elio Villafranca / Flowers by the Dry River / Caribbean Tinge
Eberhard Weber / Yellow Fields / Yellow Fields
Paul Winter Consort / Whole Earth Chant / Icarus
Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.