By Paul de Barros | Published June 2020
Lynne Arriale has proven herself to be a lyrical pianist with a lovely touch and free-flowing ideas, but she has plugged into a sense of social urgency on Chimes Of Freedom that gives the album something extra—and something quite powerful. She hits her theme on all cylinders, invoking African American struggle with a passionately rumbling rendition of the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” and her own catchy blues, “Journey,” with drummer E.J. Strickland testifying unstintingly. “The Whole Truth,” a bluesy, 32-bar swinger, sounds like it could have come from the soulful pen of Bobby Timmons. On “The Dreamers”—tender, thoughtful and inspiring—Arriale nods to immigrant children stuck in legal limbo. The emotion we were encouraged to nurture by a previous president runs deep through the oceanic, Bill Evans-like “Hope,” with Strickland and bassist Jasper Somsen conjuring subtle inner rhythms. The island feel of “Reunion” has an Emancipation Day feel, as if the reunited families in question were free for the first time. The freedom theme continues on Arriale’s beautiful hymn “Lady Liberty,” which she reprises in the anxious, homesick lyric of the Paul Simon song “American Tune,” as vocalist K.J. Denhert describes the statue drifting away, and wonders, “What went wrong?”
Arriale seems to suggest that the answer might be found in the old Bob Dylan song—judiciously abbreviated—that gives the album its name, on which Denhert cries out that chimes are tolling for “every hung-up person in the whole wide universe.” Arriale surely will touch quite a few of those people with this empathetic and timely album.
Chimes Of Freedom: Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; Journey; The Dreamers; 3 Million Steps; Hope; The Whole Truth; Lady Liberty; Reunion: Chimes Of Freedom; American Tune. (48:52)
Personnel: Lynne Arriale, piano; Jasper Somsen, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums; K.J. Denhert, vocals (9, 10).