The Squid's Ear Magazine

Parker, Christopher / Kelley Hurt: No Tears Suite (Mahakala Music)

Celebrating the temerity and successes of the students known as the Arkansas "Little Rock Nine", who in 1957 set a precedent as they fought to enter a segregated high school, in six pieces written by pianist Christopher Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt, who narrates the student's successes over the powerfully uplifting and reflective music of a six piece jazz band.

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product information:

UPC: 195269024123

Label: Mahakala Music
Catalog ID: MAHA-008
Squidco Product Code: 31696

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold


Christopher Parker-piano

Kelley Hurt-voice

Marc Franklin-trumpet

Chad Fowler-alto saxophone

Bobby LaVell-tenor saxophone

Bill Huntington-bass

Brian Blade-drums

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"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.

This resulted in a new collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra that premiered in March 2019 in Little Rock. The symphonic release will debut on the same day as the album as a free streaming-only live version. The "No Tears Suite" will have its CD and digital release from the Arkansas-based label Mahakala Music on Friday, Sept. 25.

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 Little Rock and 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."-Mahakala Music

Artist Biographies

"New York based pianist Chris Parker is a multifaceted performer and composer who has written for everything from small jazz groups and chamber ensembles to full symphony orchestra. With a long list of original works, he heads his own group that offers a diverse, lineup of Latin, funk and straight-ahead jazz. Contemporary jazz icons Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Chris Vadala and Lyn Seaton have all performed with Parker's band.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Parker started classical piano lessons at age nine. Eventually earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in music composition, Parker moved to New York where he has been Professor of Music and head of jazz studies at SUNY Orange. A New York Chancellor's Award winner, Parker engages and inspires students as he teaches them the skills they will need as future musicians.

His two CDs on the OA2 label, "Late in Lisbon" and the newly released "Full Circle" feature the unusual frontline of saxophone and violin. The albums are an exciting mix of Parker's original jazz compositions ranging in style from burning latin and straight ahead, to funky tunes and laid back ballads."

-Christopher Parker Website (

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Kelley Hurt is an American jazz singer, known for the groups Dopolarians, George Cartwright/Chad Fowler/Steve Hirsh/Chris Parker, and The Music of Frank Lowe.

-Squidco 5/31/2023

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Marc Franklin is a trumpet player and arranger based out of Memphis, Tennessee. Raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Marc moved to Memphis in 1993 to pursue a career in music. He cut his teeth touring the world with the legendary Bobby "Blue" Bland in the mid-nineties, and holding down the trumpet chair for many of the house bands on world famous Beale St. In the meantime, Franklin, with producer/bassist, Scott Bomar, co-founded The Bo-keys, a multigenerational soul music outfit with many of Memphis' legendary soul session players.

For the last twenty years, Franklin has been a first call gig and session player for a wide array of artists including Aretha Franklin, Anthony Hamilton, Justin Timberlake, Isaac Hayes, Buddy Guy, BB King, Booker T. and the MGs, Solomon Burke, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Rodgers, Otis Clay, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Ann Peebles, The WuTang Clan and many more.

Marc Franklin's compositions and arrangements have been featured on many films and television shows. Highlights include the Oscar winning film "Hustle and Flow", "Black Snake Moan", "Soul Men", "Scandal", and "Grudge Match." His arrangements also appear on Grammy nominated recordings by Cyndi Lauper and Anthony Hamilton.

Franklin continues to make music in Memphis and all over the world and is currently playing with The Gregg Allman Band."

-Greg Allman Band (

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"I'm Chad Fowler. I write books, write and play music, write software, lead organizations (currently for Microsoft, in Berlin), invest in startups, speak at conferences, teach, learn, organize conferences, etc.

I started and co-organized a couple of Ruby-related conferences including The International Ruby Conference and RailsConf."

-Chad Fowler Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Bobby LaVell is a jazz saxophonist, known for the groups Chico & Rita New York Band, Chico & Rita New York Quartet, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Robin Eubanks Mass Line Big Band.

-Discogs (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Bill Huntington is an American New Orleans-based jazz/R&B bassist and educator. He also played guitar before switching to bass. He has played and toured with Ellis Marsalis, Dr. John, Wendell Brunious, Lionel Ferbos and Steve Masakowski, among others. He is known for the groups Ellis Marsalis Trio, Fessor's Funky New Orleanians, and The Troy Andrews Quintet.

-Discogs (

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"Blade was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. The first music he experienced was gospel and songs of praise at the Zion Baptist Church where his father, Brady L. Blade, Sr., has been the pastor for fifty-two years. In elementary school, music appreciation classes were an important part of his development and at age nine, he began playing the violin. Inspired by his older brother, Brady Blade, Jr., who had been the drummer at Zion Baptist Church, Brian shifted his focus to the drums throughout middle and high school.

During high school, while studying with Dorsey Summerfield, Jr., Blade began listening to the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Elvin Jones, and Joni Mitchell. By the age of eighteen, Brian moved to New Orleans to attend Loyola University. From 1988 through 1993, he studied and played with most of the master musicians living in New Orleans, including Johnny Vidacovich, Ellis Marsalis, Steve Masakowski, Bill Huntington, Mike Pellera, John Mahoney, George French, Germaine Bazzle, David Lee, Jr., Alvin Red Tyler, Tony Dagradi and Harold Battiste.

The Fellowship Band and sideman work In 1997, Blade formed The Fellowship Band with pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Chris Thomas, saxophonists Myron Walden and Melvin Butler, guitarist Jeff Parker, and pedal steel guitarist Dave Easley. The band released its debut album, Brian Blade Fellowship, in 1998, Perceptual (with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel) in 2000, Season of Changes in 2008, Landmarks in 2014, and Body and Shadow in 2017.

While continuing to work with the Fellowship Band, since 2000 Blade has also been a member of Wayne Shorter's quartet. Blade grew up listening to Shorter's albums, and started playing with Shorter at 30 years old, along with Danilo Perez and John Patitucci.He has also recorded with Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell, Ellis Marsalis, Marianne Faithfull, Emmylou Harris, Billy Childs, Herbie Hancock, and Bob Dylan."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Overture (By the Numbers) 10:26

2. To Be a Kid 09:49

3. Roll Call 15:21

4. Don't Cry (Warrior's Song) 09:45

5. Crisis 02:01

6. Jubilate 07:44

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Septet recordings
Spoken Word
Song Based Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
New in Improvised Music
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