Two Max Roach releases, originally recorded for the Atlantic label in the late 60s and early 1970s. "Members, Don't Git Weary" features Roach on drums, Gary Bartz on alto sax, Charles Tolliver on trumpet, Jymie Merritt on electric bass and Stanley Cowell on piano. Andy Bey contributes vocals on the song "Members, Don't Git Weary." "Lift Every Voice And Sing" features Roach on drums, Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet, Billy Harper on tenor sax, George Cables on piano, Eddie Mathias on electric bass, and Ralph McDonald on percussion. Vocals are provided by the J.C. White Singers, with featured soloists Ruby McClure, Dorothy White and J.C. White.
2 LPs on 1 CD: MEMBERS DON'T GET WEARY (1968)/LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING (1971).
Personnel: Max Roach (drums); Max Roach (drum); Ruby McClure, Ruby McClure, Bishop J.C. White, Dorothy White, Dorothy White (vocals); Eddie Mathias (electric bass); Andy Bey (vocals); Gary Bartz (alto saxophone); Billy Harper (tenor saxophone); Cecil Bridgewater, Charles Tolliver (trumpet); George Cables, Stanley Cowell (piano); Jymie Merritt (electric bass).
Audio Remixer: Gene Paul.
Liner Note Author: Joel Dorn.
Recording information: Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, NY; R.C.A. Studio B, New York, NY.
Unknown Contributor Role: The J.C. White Singers.
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. ~ Michael G. Nastos