Category Archives: Jazz

Miles Davis Sketches Spain

Miles Davis Sketches Spain

Released July 18, 1960

Miles Davis Sketches of Spain

Miles Davis Sketches Spain

Third Stream

It was not new for jazz artists to take a classical composition and adapt it to their style. Third Stream was a description of such an adaptation in that it was a fusion of jazz, classical European, and world music.

In Sketches of Spain Miles Davis used some of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) as well as a song called “Will o’ the Wisp”, from Manuel de Falla’s ballet El amor brujo.

George Kanzler described Sketches of Spain as, “…the least jazzy album they [Davis and Gil Evans] made. Suffused with the melancholic, repressed passion of flamenco and shimmering with the brooding modal minimalism of that music, Sketches of Spain is a triumph of moody impressionism.”


Popular music and 10-year-old Baby Boomers were still four years away from Beatlemania and the British Invasion with its reinterpretation of American pop. And popular music was five years away from the touchstone year of 1965 when Bob Dylan went electric, the Beatles went Rubber Soul, and Brian Wilson decided to Pet Sounds.


Miles Davis Sketches Spain

Jazz musicians had often been more willing to push the limits of their style. In 1960 John Coltrane released Giant Steps, an album whose tracks continue to inspire today’s  saxophonists. Wes Montgomery did the same for guitar with The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery.

Charles Mingus

That same year, bassist Charles Mingus released Blues and Roots. In the album’s liner notes, Mingus wrote, “This record is unusual—it presents only one part of my musical world, the blues. A year ago, Nesuhi Ertegün suggested that I record an entire blues album in the style of Haitian Fight Song (in Atlantic LP 1260), because some people, particularly critics, were saying I didn’t swing enough. He wanted to give them a barrage of soul music: churchy, blues, swinging, earthy. I thought it over. I was born swinging and clapped my hands in church as a little boy, but I’ve grown up and I like to do things other than just swing. But blues can do more than just swing. So I agreed.”

Miles Davis Sketches Spain
Sketches of Spain

All Music has a wonderful review. Each of reviewer Thom Jurek’s sentences seems to top the previous one in its praise for each track.

While the Beatles were still crafting their skills and trying to decide what name they should stick with, Miles Davis was creating some of the most classic music ever recorded.

Miles Davis Sketches Spain

Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite

Max Roach We Insist! Freedom Now Suite
Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite

Max Roach had recorded We Insist! (subtitled Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite) on August 31 and September 6, 1969 at the Nola Penthouse Sound Studio in New York. Candid Records released the album.

It contains a suite which composer and drummer Max Roach and lyricist Oscar Brown had begun to develop in 1959, with a view to its performance in 1963 on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. The album cover references the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite

Core Collection

The Penguin Guide to Jazz awarded the album one of its rare crown accolades, in addition to featuring it as part of its Core Collection.

The music consists of five selections concerning the Emancipation Proclamation and the growing African independence movements of the 1950s. 

Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite

Side one

  1. “Driva Man” (Roach, Oscar Brown) – 5:17
  2. “Freedom Day” (Roach, Brown) – 6:08
  3. “Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace” (Roach) – 8:09

Side two

  1. “All Africa” (Roach, Brown) – 8:01
  2. “Tears for Johannesburg” (Roach) – 9:42
Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite

Abbey Lincoln

Only Roach and vocalist Abbey Lincoln perform on all five tracks, and one track features a guest appearance by saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.

  • Booker Little – trumpet on “Driva Man”, “Freedom Day”, “All Africa”, and “Tears for Johannesburg”
  • Julian Priester – trombone on “Driva Man”, “Freedom Day”, and “Tears for Johannesburg”
  • Walter Benton – tenor saxophone on “Driva Man”, “Freedom Day”, and “Tears for Johannesburg”
  • Coleman Hawkins – tenor saxophone on “Driva Man”
  • James Schenk – bass on “Driva Man”, “Freedom Day”, and “Tears for Johannesburg”
  • Michael Olatunji – congas, vocals on side two
  • Raymond Mantilla – percussion on side two
  • Tomas du Vall – percussion on side two

Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite


From AllMusic’s Michael G NastosThis is a pivotal work in the discography of Roach and African-American music in general, its importance growing in relevance and timely, postured, real emotional output. Every modern man, woman, and child could learn exponentially listening to this recording — a hallmark for living life.

From a Jerry Jazz Musician site in 2014We Insist!  Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite — a seminal recording from the heat of the civil rights era that, according to Candid A&R director (and jazz writer/civil rights activist) Nat Hentoff, spoke “defiant truth to power” — is now-more-than-ever relevant, and required musical achievement, artistic vision and personal courage.  It was recorded and produced at a time of protest against bigotry and racial discrimination when bigotry and racial discrimination were not only not illegal, they were institutionalized. 

Max Roach We insist! Freedom Now Suite