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We Insist! is a classic. At a time when the civil rights movement was starting to heat up, drummer Max Roach performed and recorded a seven-part suite dealing with black history (particularly slavery) and racism. “Driva’ Man” has a powerful statement by veteran tenor Coleman Hawkins and there is valuable solo space elsewhere for trumpeter Booker Little and trombonist Julian Priester, but it is the overall performance of Abbey Lincoln that is most notable. Formerly a nightclub singer, Lincoln really came into her own under Roach’s tutelage and she is a strong force throughout this intense set. On “Tryptich: Prayer/Protest/Peace,” Lincoln is heard in duets with the drummer and her wrenching screams of rage are quite memorable. This timeless protest record is a gem.

The Percussion Bitter Sweet CD reissue brings back a classic album, one of the finest of drummer Max Roach’s very productive career. The illustrious sidemen (trumpeter Booker Little; trombonist Julian Priester; Eric Dolphy on alto, bass clarinet, and flute; tenorman Clifford Jordan; pianist Mal Waldron; and bassist Art Davis, in addition to some guest percussionists) all have opportunities to make strong contributions and Dolphy’s pleading alto solo on “Mendacity” is particularly memorable. Abbey Lincoln has two emotional and very effective vocals, but it is the overall sound of the ensembles and the political nature of the music that make this set (along with Roach’s Freedom Now Suite) quite unique in jazz history.

-Scott Yanow, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
WE INSIST! MAX ROACH’S FREEDOM NOW SUITE (1960)
PERCUSSION BITTER SWEET (1961)
320kbps

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