IN THE TRUNK: “Ceciliana” by Max Roach (Audio)

Max Roach started drumming at an early age, playing in church like so many musicians, then later on studying music. Born in North Carolina, but was raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and became a huge influence in Jazz from the era of Bop to Avant Garde Jazz and fusion. It is said that his style of drumming was both innovative and pioneering because he played with layers of rhythm that brought not only his music, but Jazz as a whole to new levels. Roach recorded over 50 studio and live LP’s as a band leader, including the politically charged We Insist! LP. He collaborated on over 80 LP’s and recorded up until 2002. His list of collaborators is too vast to name, but he played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Dinah Washington, Donald Byrd, Abbey Lincoln, and Archie Shepp to name a few. Although he was never a recipient of a Grammy, he was awarded a Mac Arthur Genius grant for music and received several honorary degrees awarded by universities from here to Italy.

This is one of those Max Roach tunes that pulls at the very core of my emotion. I feel angry, sad, revived, and enthralled to hear the way the piano and bass converse with each other. The feeling around this tune is as though someone has had a heated argument about music, and ends with, “I’m not only going to play it how I want, but $%^& you, and this is how I feel right now!” The piano man is at times banging away by himself as everyone else in the band lays out and just lets him go for broke. The sheer mischievousness and presence of the bass when the tune first walks, is incredible. It sets the stage, lays out the silverware for the piano to take lead. “Ceciliana” was recorded live, but not a soul in the audience makes a sound until it is done.

Ceciliana” was recorded live in Paris with a stellar band that included Julian Priester on piano, Stanley Turrentine on trumpet, and Bob Boswell on bass.

“Ceciliana” by Max Roach

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Parent, illustrator, author, owner of Come Bien Books, muralist, activist, and self-proclaimed believer in the power of music and its infinite sonic vibrations. Follow him @RobertTres