Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country

By Esther Cooper Jackson; Constance Pohl | Go to book overview

73
Jazz No. 2, 1962

MAX ROACH

The great percussionist's artistic commitment to the freedom struggle was evident in his jazz composition Freedom Now Suite, composed in 1960 in honor of Dr. King.

[Jazz:] A kind of music, generally improvised but sometimes arranged, achieving its effects by syncopation, heavily accented rhythms, dissonance, melodic variation, and particular tonal qualities of the saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, and other instruments. It was originated by New Orleans Negro musicians.

This interpretation, taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica Dictionary is, at best, only a surface explanation of this many spectrumed terminology. "Jazz," has never, except in very vague terms, been answered, as to its meaning, intent and content by its creators. This phenomenon (its never being answered), for all its intrigue, however, will not be delved into at this time. I mean to deal only with what the music, in actuality, is.

"Jazz" is an extension of the African chants and songs. It is an extension of the pain and suffering of those long, and too often, destinationless trips across the Atlantic Ocean, deep in the holes of those

-360-

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