Max Roach - album review

  • The List
  • 4 October 2007
Max Roach

The recent death of master drummer Max Roach has prompted the re-release of one of his most famous recordings, the epic Freedom Now Suite from 1960. Roach wrote the music in the midst of the civil rights campaign, and if his searing demand for justice is admittedly somewhat of its time in terms of rhetoric, it has retained its power and passion across the ensuing decades.

The drummer himself is at the heart of the music, leading a shifting line-up that features three percussionists, trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist Julian Priester and saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. One of the most prominent presences is vocalist Abbey Lincoln, Roach’s wife at the time, who gave one of her greatest performances, including a famously eloquent blood-curdling shriek in the middle of ‘Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace’. (Kenny Mathieson)

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