Max Roach: Effi




Max Roach (drums)


Members, Don't Git Weary (Collectables 7828)

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Max Roach (drums), Gary Bartz (alto saxophone), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Stanley Cowell (piano), Jymie Merritt (bass).

Composed by Stanley Cowell


Recorded: New York City, June 25, 1968


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Roach's saxophone-trumpet front lines certainly rivaled those of Art Blakey over several decades. Max's pairings included Sonny Rollins-Clifford Brown, George Coleman-Booker Little, and Odean Pope-Cecil Bridgewater, while hornmen Hank Mobley, Stanley Turrentine, Harold Land, Kenny Dorham, Donald Byrd, and Freddie Hubbard also performed with the drummer at various times. In the late '60's, Roach was blessed to have three "young lions" of the day in his band—Gary Bartz, Charles Tolliver, and Stanley Cowell—plus sparkplug bassist Jymie Merritt. The civil rights movement inspired much of Roach's ‘60s output, and the title track of Members, Don't Git Weary was but one example. Tolliver and Cowell would soon go on to found Strata-East Records and Collective Black Artists Inc. as part of the quest for self-determination.

Cowell is a fine composer, and "Effi" is one of his most stirring compositions, a whirling assemblage of motifs that Bartz and Tolliver either share or play separately, with Merritt and Roach providing vigorous—and in the case of Roach, sometimes thunderous—encouragement for the horns' aggressive attacks. Bartz and Tolliver also create compatibly responsive commentaries during each other's passionate, high-energy solos, and the appealing blend of their sounds is never short of outstanding. However, just as Cowell appears to be initiating a much more subdued piano solo, he and the track itself simply fade away abruptly. Thus it turns out that what we have just experienced is the storm before the calm.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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