Drummer and composer Max Roach is one of the most important figures in the history of jazz. An early pioneer of bebop, he worked in many other styles of music, and is considered one of the most important drummers ever. During his career he worked with such jazz luminaries as Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie , Sonny Rollins, and many more. He was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1992.
An avant-garde masterpiece, a vocal-instrumental suite, a work of collective improvisation, directly addressing the racial and political issues of its day, We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite is one of the most important artistic statements of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the most groundbreaking jazz albums of all time.
Max Roach was already almost a decade into his career as one of the most influential jazz drummers and composers when he teamed up with lyricist Oscar Brown, Jr. to collaborate on a piece they planned to perform at the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963. The urgency of the civil rights movement and the momentum gained from the "sit-ins" which began at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, inspired the artists to commit the project to record in the fall of 1960.
Recorded just months after the February 1960 Greensboro sit-ins, the album stands as an early musical testament to the burgeoning rage, anger and passion that would take the Civil Rights Movement from its early victory in Montgomery in 1955 into a future that would dramatically alter race relations in the United States. The second release from the newly launched New York City based jazz label Candid Records, and produced by label co-founder, famed music critic and social activist Nat Hentoff, the album is a bold statement, focused on civil injustices in black history ranging from slavery to contemporary racial prejudices, and featuring some of the finest jazz musicians ever, including Abbey Lincoln, Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Booker Little and Michael Babatunde Olatunji.
The five movements of the work are organized as a historical progression through African-American history, a shape similar to the one in Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige. The Freedom Now Suite moves from slavery to Emancipation Day to the contemporary civil-rights struggle and African independence. Roach vowed after its release that he would never again play music that is not socially relevant and told Down Beat magazine, "We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we're master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we've been through."
The album inspired Roach to broaden his scope as a composer and collaborate with choreographers, filmmakers, and playwrights. The LP includes extraordinary liner notes written by Hentoff himself, giving a context and insight that adds to the experience of hearing these magnificent performances.
- 180g Vinyl
- Remastered by Bernie Grundman from Original Master Tapes
- Tip-on Jacket
- Liner Notes by Nat Hentoff
- Made in the U.S.A.
|Coleman Hawkins||tenor saxophone|
|Walter Benton||tenor saxophone|
|Michael Olatunji||conga drums|
|Tomas du Vall||percussion|
- Driva' Man
- Freedom Day
- Triptych: Prayer / Protest / Peace
- All Africa
- Tears for Johannesburg