How Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War Inspired Brian McCarthy’s Latest Album – Seven Days, August 2017

In the final moments of his first inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln said, “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.” He closed the impassioned speech with a plea to what he called “the better angels of our nature,” an artful way of imploring Americans to muster their innate goodness and to let it guide them in the turbulent days he knew were coming.

It was this section of the famed oration that led Colchester-based saxophonist Brian McCarthy, 36, to develop a large-scale, modern jazz project called The Better Angels of Our Nature. He and his nonet released a crowdfunded recording of the project in June. The nine-song suite, which McCarthy originally debuted at the FlynnSpace in November 2015, reimagines popular music of the Civil War era as a complexly arranged, imaginative odyssey. He draws a parallel between the creation of jazz, a celebrated genre born out of the suffering of black slaves, and Lincoln’s “better angels.”


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