Sounds of Liberation was a band – and a social movement – formed in of the Germantown & Mt Airy neighborhoods of Philadelphia in 1970. The group consisted of seven members: Khan Jamal (vibraphone), Byard Lancaster (alto saxophone), Billy Mills (bass), Dwight James (drums), Monnette Sudler (guitar), Omar Hill (percussion), and Rashid Salim (percussion).
Originally conceived and formed by Khan Jamal, the arrival of Byard Lancaster in 1971 helped shift their focus and efforts into a higher gear. Jamal and Lancaster would work together in different configurations throughout the decade. Sounds of Liberation were at the forefront of avant-garde Black expression in the early 1970s, putting action behind their creative endeavors. They were as much of a community force as a band, and there was a strong desire by the entire group to work with a range of different populations, from school children to inmates. They continued to do so through the mid-1970s. In addition to club performances, the collective initiated happenings in elementary schools, prisons & community centers throughout Philly, to great success and impact in the city’s African-American and jazz community.
“An innovative but accessible blend of free jazz and funk… all too poignantly reminiscent of a time when this kind of project might be considered almost ‘mainstream,’ and the future looked bright with promise.”
– JazzTimes (David Whiteis)
“[Sounds of Liberation is] a treasure of ‘70s jazz and a spiritual jazz classic.”
– All Music (Thom Jurek)
“Sounds of Liberation delivers a killer journey into the funky-spiritual jazz dimension.”
– The Vinyl District (Joseph Neff)