Co-produced by Spike Lee and Quincy Jones, and released on Jones' label, the soundtrack to Lee's Malcolm X includes a number of artists contemporary to Malcolm X's movement, as well as his growing-up years, to some degree. The album is primarily notable for the quality of the jazz presented (Lionel Hampton's arguably best-known song, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane...). As though that weren't enough, there's also a good dosage of jump blues in Big Joe Turner, Louis Jordan, and Ray Charles. Also, two new tracks were written/performed specifically for the album, Arrested Development's "Revolution" (made soon after their success with 3 years, 5 months..., and prior to their commercial failure in Zingalamaduni) and Aretha Franklin's "Someday We'll All Be Free." This is quite a black-based album (as well it should be, given the subject), and some of the best of black music from the times encompassed by the movie is presented. Even aside from any ties to the movie, the album makes for a nice little compilation of pre-bop jazz and blues.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg