This is Black History Month and as many Jazz artists are African-American or African-Canadian, deference to Black culture is heavily represented on The Jazz Show throughout the year but this month for the initial Jazz Feature and again on the last Monday of the month, we’ll present two albums by someone who was not only a great drummer and bandleader but a champion of civil rights, Mr. Max Roach. The first of our two Max Roach presentations begins with his ground-breaking “Freedom Now Suite”. Mr. Roach was a proud man and equally proud of his artistry and a keen observer of national politics and witnessed first hand racial injustices to his fellow artists. His music became more political and militant and eventually he was barred for several years from all the recording companies. His Freedom Now Suite combines his compositions with words written by Oscar Brown Jr. and are performed by his working band which includes trumpeter Booker Little, trombonist, Julian Priester, tenor saxophonist Walter Benton, bassist James Schenk, various percussionists and Mr. Roach on drums plus singer Abbey Lincoln and special guest tenor saxophone giant, Coleman Hawkins. This is powerful music and despite being recorded almost 60 years ago still packs a relevant punch.
Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is today one of the major voices on that instrument. Ingrid was born and raised in Nanaimo, B.C. and both she and her sister Christine (who makes a cameo appearance on this album) went to school with famed singer Diane Krall. Ingrid has reached national and international stature. This album which Ingrid leads with tenor saxophonist Steve Treseler and their band is a gem. Ingrid and co. play and interpret the compositions of Canadian-born trumpeter/composer Kenny Wheeler. As always, Wheeler’s compositions are often melancholy, lyrical and memorable. This album is a major statement from Ingrid Jensen and is already thought of as a latter day classic. Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler–“Invisible Sounds for Kenny Wheeler”.
“Joe Henderson in Japan”. Mr. Henderson emerged in the early 1960s as a major and influential voice on the tenor saxophone. Joe made scads of great recordings for Blue Note as a leader and sideman and recorded for several other labels up until his passing in 2001. Joe’s influence has been pervasive and his music lives today in many young players. Tonight’s Jazz Feature represents Joe at his inspired best playing at a small club full of young Japanese enthusiasts with a band of fine Japanese players on electric piano, bass and drums. Joe was not only inspired by the quality of his accompanists but by the energy from the audience and gives his absolute best here. We’ll hear a special edition of this date tonight.