Click to view on Huffington Post

Click to view on Huffington Post


"The Better Angels of Our Nature is both timeless (as is all great music) and could not be more timely. Brian McCarthy has assembled an ensemble of brilliant players and given them music of deep roots and resonant meaning, a program rich in our history with lessons for the present moment that we should all take to heart.  Bravo, Brian."
- Bob Blumenthal, author and journalist

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Looking back on the most divisive moment in American history (no matter how much the current day seems ready to claim that title), saxophonist Brian McCarthy finds the roots of jazz in Civil War-era songs and spirit. On his new album, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, McCarthy pairs insightful new arrangements of vintage wartime folk songs with vibrant new compositions for his skilled Nonet to explore the clashing inspirations and enduring influence of the war that turned brother against brother in a battle over the soul of America.

Due out June 13 via Truth Revolution Recording Collective, The Better Angels Of Our Nature takes its title from the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address. The speech, addressed in large part to the citizens of the Southern states, was offered in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for reunification with the seceded Confederacy. McCarthy’s music locates the better angels at the heart of music representing the North, the South, and the African-American slaves who weren’t considered full citizens but whose fate hung in the balance of the brutal conflict.

A self-professed Civil War history buff, McCarthy found the era an ideal subject for the large-scale project that grew out of a Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant. The war has long served as the starting point for the Jazz History class that McCarthy teaches at Johnson State College, as “a time before jazz existed, but a time that was crucial to its existence.” As he explains, “Jazz came from the African-American experience here in America. Out of the darkness of terrible slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow came this really beautiful art form.

Download the full press release

Bill Mobley - trumpet/flugelhorn / Cameron MacManus - trombone / Brian McCarthy - Alto/Soprano Sax / Daniel Ian Smith - Tenor/Soprano Sax / Stantawn Kendrick - Tenor Sax / Andrew Gutaskas - Baritone Sax / Justin Kauflin - Piano / Matt Aronoff - Bass / Zach Harmon - Drums

Sample Video

In the Press

 "Wholly unexpected and terrific."
—Jeff Simon, Buffalo News

“...a jazz album that makes a cavernous impression for its arresting beauty and conceptual brilliance.” 4.5 stars.
— Brian Zimmerman, Downbeat Magazine

“The ensemble is exceptionally skilled with standout improvisations from the leader, Kendrick and Kauflin. An unusual album in content and execution, The Better Angels of Our Nature is a valuable collection on multiple levels.”
— Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz

12.6.2017    Huffington Post - "Best of 2017"
12.1.2017    Downbeat Magazine - "Best of 2017"
9.1.2017      Downbeat Magazine Review
8.17.2017    Time Argus Review 
8.17.2017    Time Argus Feature 
8.16.2017    Seven Days Feature 
7.24.2017    Green Mountain Jazz, All About Jazz Review
7.20.2017    All About Jazz Review
7.6.2017      Vermont Public Radio, Listening Party w/ Reuben Jackson
7.1.2017      Step Tempest, Blog Review
6.22.2017    The Buffalo News, Review
6.15.2017    Republic of Jazz, Blog Review
6.7.2017      Impediments of War, Radio Interview
6.2.2017      Black Grooves, Blog Review
3.8.2016      NCPR Interview - The Bridge with Joel Hurd  
3.12.2016    Saxophone Life, Interview
11.5.2015    Burlington Free Press, Feature
11.6.2016    Vermont Public Radio, Live Performance
11.4.2015    105.9FM The Radiator /Rocket Shop,  Interview and Performance
11.3.2015    Vermont Arts Council, Blog Preview


Linda Little

Ann Braithwaite
Braithwaite & Katz Communications
Ph: 781-259-9600

Record Label
Truth Revolution Recording Collective

Artist Contact


Grant Opportunities for New England Presenters

NEST Grant Eligible!
(New England States Touring Grant)

Artist support for performances and clinics is available to New England nonprofit organizations through the New England Foundation for the Arts. For more information, contact Daniela Jacobson