“We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we’re master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we’ve been through.” Max Roach, 1960
We Insist! Freedom Now Suite was the first overtly political jazz album long-playing (LP) record featuring poetry and songs advocating for equality and justice. Recorded and released in 1960 on Candid Records to critical acclaim, We Insist! remains a landmark musical milestone composed by band leader/percussionist Max Roach in collaboration with poet Oscar Brown, Jr. In commemoration of the courage of their forbearers’ convictions and commitment to human rights, Dr. Anthony Brown’s GRAMMY-nominated Asian American Orchestra, re-imagines this significant project to share its timeless message of social and racial justice and its continuing relevance to today’s #BlackLivesMatter Movement and the upsurge of anti-Muslim violence.
We Insist! Freedom Now Suite 2016 premiered in early June at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. The Musically Minded Academy performance marks the East Bay debut. To begin the evening, Musically Minded’s Artistic Director Jim Bennett will lead a discussion with Dr. Anthony Brown, lyricst/vocalist Amikaeyla, and poet Genny Lim on the historic significance of the original We Insist! Freedom Now Suite album created by composer Max Roach and lyricist Oscar Brown Jr. and why the work has a continued relevance and importance in the United States and globally over half a century later.
Asian America Orchestra
Anthony Brown-percussion, director, Ian Carey-trumpet, Mark Izu-bass, sheng, Masaru Koga-saxophones, shakuhachi,flute, Frank Martin-keyboard, Jasim Perales-trombone, Amikaeyla -vocals, Genny Lim-poetry
Ojala Bata Ensemble: Carolyn Brandy, Michaelle Goerlitz, Elizabeth Sayre, Regina Wells
Anthony Brown is a composer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist, Guggenheim fellow, Smithsonian Associate Scholar, and Artistic Director of the GRAMMY nominated Asian American Orchestra and the nonprofit organization, Fifth Stream Music. He has composed music for critically acclaimed, award winning film documentaries, theater productions, dance companies and musical ensembles internationally, and has collaborated with Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, Zakir Hussain, Steve Lacy, Anthony Davis and the San Francisco Symphony. Dr. Brown has served as Curator of American Musical Culture and Director of the Jazz Oral History Program at the Smithsonian Institution, and as a Visiting Professor of Music at UC Berkeley.
Since 1998, this San Francisco-based Orchestra has received international critical acclaim for blending Asian musical instruments and sensibilities with the sonorities and improvisation of the jazz orchestra. Their recording of Duke Ellington- Billy Strayhorn’s Far East Suite received a 2000 GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. The Orchestra’s recording, Monk’s Moods: Music of Thelonious Monk with guest Steve Lacy, was rated a “Five-star masterpiece” and “Best CD of 2003” by Downbeat magazine. Anthony Brown’s 2005 release, Rhapsodies, features his recomposition of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue which he completed as a 2003 Guggenheim Fellow. In 2010, the Asian American Orchestra released India & Africa: A Tribute to John Coltrane Recorded Live at Yoshi’s to international critical acclaim.