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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
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Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

One of the goals of my Bethel Woods Museum tours is to more accurately present the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Clear up that Woodstock haze.

A common misconceptions is that the 400,000 there were a bunch of hippies. Using a picture I took the Saturday of the festival, I half-kiddingly point out that the majority of young people there were “white kids getting sunburned.”

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun
photo by J Shelley

Guests typically chuckle and I add, “Look at the rest of the pictures and find the hippies. Find tie-dyed clothing.” Picture perusal yields little of either.

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun

#1

On September 5, 1964 “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. They had recorded it on May 18 and released it in the UK in June and in the US in August. At 2:58, the song barely made it under the AM radio de rigueur  3 minute limit.

Animals House of the Rising Sun

British Blues Invasion

When songs by British invaders like the Rolling Stones and the Animals started playing on American radio airwaves, many teenagers loved their gritty soulful feel. Little did we innocent and naive white segregated American teenagers realize, as the Stones and Animals did, that the songs were American.

Animals House of the Rising Sun

Not Hello Dolly

“House of the Rising Sun” is such an example. The song’s origins may go as far back as the 1700s. The classic American bluesman, Leadbelly, recorded two versions in the mid-1940s.

As with many musical genres, the Animals adapted the song’s story to their own way by changing the viewpoint from that of a woman to that of a son whose father is satisfied only when he is drunk.

This was not She Loves You, Hello Dolly, Everybody Loves Somebody, or any other of 1964’s #1 songs. Its intensity and darkness set it apart.

You can find more about the song’s history via a American Blues Scene link.

Eric Burdon Animals House Rising Sun
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