VARIOUS ARTISTS / “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” Mixtape
Pianist and educator William Taylor was born July 24, 1921 in Greenville, North Carolina but reared in Washington, DC. He holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In addition to his long career as a jazz pianist, Billy Taylor has also been a radio DJ and was the Musical Director of NBC’s The Subject Is Jazz television series.
In addition to producing numerous jazz programs and special events, Dr. Taylor founded New York City’s popular Jazzmobile program. He holds a Grammy Award, an NEA Jazz Masters Award, an Emmy Award and an ASCAP Jazz Living Legend Award among many others.
This week BoL celebrates Billy Taylor’s most famous composition, which he composed in 1954, the same year as the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education landmark Supreme Court ruling outlawing separate but equal in the nation’s schools. In 1967 Nina Simone covered the song on her Silk and Soul album and ever since the song has become an anthem for freedom loving people everywhere.
The fifteen versions presented on this week’s Mixtape includes Leontyne Price in a choral arrangement patterned on Negro Spirituals. There is both a live performance and a modern remix of Nina Simone renditions. Instrumental takes include organist Shirley Scott and a solo take from pianist Junior Mance. Of course we include a Billy Taylor Trio performance—and it’s the most swinging version in the whole batch. One of my favorites is a stripped-down, self-produced private recording by Jhelisa that is striking in its emotional intensity.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” Mixtape Playlist
01 The Essential Leontyne Price: Spirituals, Hymns & Sacred Songs
02 The Prestige Records Story - Illinois Jacquet
03 Protest Anthology - Nina Simone
04 Hayward & Hinton – Lance Hayward & Milt Hinton
05 I Know CD single - Dionne Farris
06 Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes
07 After the Rain - Irma Thomas
08 Music Keeps Us Young - Billy Taylor Trio
09 You Can Always Turn Around - Lucky Peterson
10 Junior Mance Special
11 Greatest Hits - Lighthouse Family
12 To Be Free - Dave Braham
13 I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free CD single - Sharlene Hector
14 Remixed & Reimagined (Import) - Nina Simone
*note that “I Wish…” is only on the European & Asian imports of this release, not on the domestic release
15 (private recording) - Jhelisa
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