Max Roach

Members, Don't Git Weary/Lift Every Voice and Sing

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These recordings of Max Roach for the Atlantic label have each been issued on single CDs by Koch Records, but now they are combined into one. The concepts of the dates are quite different, with one wholly instrumental, the other emphasizing choral vocals. Members, Don't Git Weary is a superior session, featuring pianist and composer Stanley Cowell from 1968, at a time when Cowell had left his native Toledo, OH, for New York City. It contains three of his most famous compositions -- "Abstrutions," "Effi," and the by-now standard "Equipoise." Enhancing the combo are young stars saxophonist Gary Bartz and trumpeter Charles Tolliver. Lift Every Voice and Sing from 1971 is dominated by the J.C. White Singers, sublimating to a great extent Roach, trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, and keyboardist George Cables. There are some great gospel-inspired classics, and tributes to seminal figures Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Medgar Evers, but the music lacks variety, and as such is only for specific tastes and purposes. Truly a "six of one and half a dozen of the other" reissue, this two-fer is likely to find itself on the shelves of Roach completists, as he did far better work before and after, but Members remains a pivot-point recording for the great drummer.

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