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Premiere Screening of “We Insist!” Links Historic Civil Rights Moment to Today

Legendary drummer and composer Max Roach is considered one of the most important jazz figures in history

Published on February 08, 2021

In recognition of Black History Month, JazzArts Charlotte presents a performance of “We Insist!,” Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, a historic and groundbreaking album, presented from Charlotte’s Black Lives Matter mural.

This large production performance, featuring over a dozen accomplished regional and world-renowned artists, broadcasts its premiere Friday, February 12th, 8 pm EST on JazzArts Charlotte’s YouTube Live. This special broadcast event is free.

“Our goal is to educate and share all aspects of the music, including its role in the struggle for equality,” says Lonnie Davis, President of JazzArts Charlotte. “We Insist! is a masterful work that captures the movement, with many references to today’s ongoing challenges. Our city’s Black Lives Matter mural was an obvious location for this meaningful 60th Anniversary Tribute.”

Legendary drummer and composer Max Roach is considered one of the most important jazz figures in history. His 1960 suite, “We Insist!” carries powerful messages in support of civil rights and racial justice.

Internationally recognized trumpeter Sean Jones joins accomplished regional musicians to create this Carolina’s premiere. Jones is a performer, composer, and jazz educator. He has served as lead trumpeter for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and is currently the president of the Jazz Education Network. In addition to the exceptional slate of musicians, the multi-disciplined performance incorporates African-inspired choreography and spoken word.

“North Carolina is the birthplace of several prominent jazz figures, including Max Roach. Like many artists in the 1960s, jazz musicians channeled the turmoil of the era into their art,” said Dr. Willie Griffin, a historian at the Levine Museum of the New South. “In many ways, Max Roach’s ‘We Insist!’ Freedom Suite served as the keynote of jazz albums for the 1960s, as it and subsequent music produced by prominent jazz artists served to inspire many of the young civil rights activists of the period.”

This program was made possible through support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte Center City Partners, and U.S. Bank. “This piece is just as inspiring today as it was 60 years ago, and it reflects our strong commitment as a company to promoting social justice,” said Reba Dominski, Chief Social Responsibility Officer at U.S. Bank.

Senior Writer