Record Collector (magazine) - p.96
"Roach assembled a large supporting cast of jazz musicians to add considerable musical gravitas to his cause."
Personnel: Max Roach (drums); Abbey Lincoln (vocals); Coleman Hawkins, Walter Benton (tenor saxophone); Booker Little (trumpet); Julian Priester (trombone); Jimmy Schenck (acoustic bass); Michael Olatunji (congas); Tomas Duvall, Ray Mantilla (percussion).
WE INSIST! MAX ROACH'S FREEDOM NOW SUITE, co-authored by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., was a pivotal work in the early-'60s African-American protest movement. Vocalist Abbey Lincoln expresses this oppression as effectively as anyone could with her wordless vocals and interpretations of Brown, Jr's lyrics. Roach assembled one of his greatest bands, from his own emerging ensemble with trombonist Julian Priester and trumpeter Booker Little, to the legendary Coleman Hawkins and lesser-known, underappreciated tenor saxophonist Walter Benton. Percussionists Ray Mantilla and Michael Olatunji gave the poetic pieces sung by Lincoln enough substance and spice, referring to Afro-Cuban and South American slavery as well. Hawkins is particularly impressive, as his emotional range during the deep and dour, 5/4 slave song "Driva' Man" clearly feeds off of Lincoln's blues singing about quittin' time. "Triptych; Prayer/Peace/Protest" is the magnum opus of the set, introduced by Roach's signature drum moves, an eerie operatic vocal by Lincoln, and a 5/4 beat from the percussionist against a calmer vocal component, all written for interpretive dance. This is a pivotal work in the discography of Roach and African-American music in general.