Tag Archives: Jazz

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

Accolades

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

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus

On September 4, 1957 Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School. The Soviet Union used the event to  propagandize tales of the horrors suffered by African Americans.

Columbia rejects

Jazz bassist Charles Mingus composed “Fables of Faubus” in reaction. It is one of his most explicitly political works. He recorded it for his 1959 album, Mingus Ah Um, but his label, Columbia, refused to include the lyrics. so he recorded song  as an instrumental.

Candid accepts

On October 20, 1960 he recorded Fables of Faubus with lyrics for the album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus with the more  independent Candid label. Contractual issues with Columbia forced Candid to re-name the song Original Faubus Fables.

Rapier-thrust

The personnel for the Candid recording were Charles Mingus (bass, vocals), Dannie Richmond (drums, vocals), Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone), and Ted Curson (trumpet). The vocals featured a call-and-response between Mingus and Richmond.

Critic Don Heckman commented of the unedited “Original Faubus Fables” in a 1962 review that it was “a classic Negro put-down in which satire becomes a deadly rapier-thrust. Faubus emerges in a glare of ridicule as a mock villain whom no-one really takes seriously. This kind of commentary, brimful of feeling, bitingly direct and harshly satiric, appears far too rarely in jazz.” See this Musiqology article for more.

Lyrics
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us! Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us! Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us! Oh, Lord, no more swastikas! 

Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie. Governor Faubus! Why is he so sick and ridiculous?

He won’t permit integrated schools. Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!

Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan) Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.

Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower Why are they so sick and ridiculous?

Two, four, six, eight: They brainwash and teach you hate. H-E-L-L-O, Hello.

Charles Mingus Fables Faubus