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We Insist! re-imagined: A celebration of the Max Roach Centennial at NJPAC

Last Friday night (Jan. 26), in celebration of the Max Roach Centennial, NJPAC presented a re-imagination of his landmark 1960 album, We Insist!,(subtitled Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite). Written with the lyricist Oscar Brown, and with powerful vocals by Abbey Lincoln, the original work was deeply inspired by the then growing Civil Rights movement, as well as by the hundreds of years of oppression and violence suffered by African Americans. Former Max Roach collaborator and drummer Nasheet Waits was the musical director of this re-imagined performance of We Insist!, which in Nasheet's words was "a recording that served as inspiration for freedom fighters around the world.... We re-imagined this most important work with care and love." Indeed they did, and I took a few photos of this spectacular performance.

The stellar ensemble, led by Nasheet Waits, featured: Cassandra Wilson (vocals); Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams (poetry); Ravi Coltrane and Jordan Young (saxophones); Josh Evans (trumpet); Luis Bonilla (trombone); Nduduzo Makhathini (piano); Eric Revis (bass); Melvis Santa, Kweku Sumbry and Zafer Tawil (percussion). Special guests included The Last Poets, City of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and poet Vincent Toro. Videography was by Alyson Shotz.

Long time music lover and WBGO listener, Jonathan proudly joined the WBGO team in Mid 2018.  He is a former collegiate and tournament tennis player – with international experience both as a player and a coach. Jonathan is a published photographer, who enjoys checking out jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world, and is a life-long, die-hard New York Mets fan. Raised in Central NJ but  after a long stint in Chicago, he has resided in Brooklyn for the past two decades.