The Uptown String Quartet really began as part of the Max Roach Double Quartet. Their 1985 joint recording had John Williams and Cecelia Hobbs on violins, Maxine Roach (Max's daughter) on viola, and cellist Eileen Folson. By 1986, the string quartet had its name and the personnel of violinists Diana Monroe and Lesa Terry, Maxine Roach, and cellist Zela Terry. By the time they debuted in 1989 on record as a separate entity of their own, Monroe, Lesa Terry, and Roach were joined by Eileen Folson; the personnel would remain the same. One of the very first string quartets to improvise (they were preceded by Turtle Island), the group's repertoire on their two releases (for Philips and Bluemoon) ranges from bop standards and traditional folk songs to new advanced originals.