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Percussion Bitter Sweet
Max Roach
Percussion Bitter Sweet
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

Percussion Bitter Sweet is the most compelling, varied, dynamic snapshot of Max Roach's post-Clifford Brown ensembles. It features the doomed young genius Booker Little on trumpet, the innovative Eric Dolphy on alto and ba...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Max Roach
Title: Percussion Bitter Sweet
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Grp Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/1961
Re-Release Date: 2/16/1993
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 011105012225

Percussion Bitter Sweet is the most compelling, varied, dynamic snapshot of Max Roach's post-Clifford Brown ensembles. It features the doomed young genius Booker Little on trumpet, the innovative Eric Dolphy on alto and bass clarinet, Clifford Jordan on tenor, Julian Priester on trombone, Mal Waldron on piano and Art Davis on bass. Roach is never content just to mark time. Instead, his drums essay complex metric and polyrhythmic devices, while suggesting keyboard-like counterpoint and melodic motifs, as Davis goads him on with stately walking bass lines. But what makes Percussion Bitter Sweet such a rich, enduring recital is the drummer's colorful use of Afro-Cuban percussion and voice as a powerful multicultural subtext, celebrating the struggles and triumphs of Africans and African Americans (circa 1960) from Harlem (the celebratory "Garvey's Ghost") to Capetown ("Man from South Africa"). Little's darting filigree on the hard-swinging "Mama" is indicative of his breakthroughs in harmony and phrasing, while Dolphy's glorious, airborne flute, fulminating bass clarinet, and torchy, enraged alto enliven the waltzing "Tender Warriors" and the sardonic "Mendacity." On the latter, vocalist Abbey Lincoln's sassy, theatrical phrasing drips bluesy sarcasm in her spanking of a hypocritical racist establishment, setting the stage for Roach's furious, ritualistic rhythmic exorcism. Inspiring stuff. --Chip Stern

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CD Reviews

Jazz with a social conscience
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 11/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Step into the political/musical world of master drummer with "Percussion Bitter Sweet." This is jazz charged with a social conscience, as immediately evidence by some of the titles, such as "Garvey's Ghost." While albums with overt political motivation can sometimes fizzle musically, this is assuredly not the case with "Percussion Bitter Sweet," which uses superb jazz music to enhance the sense of urgency that characterized the '60s civil rights movement.Besides, how could a drummer with the superb taste of Max Roach ever trivialize music? And when he is joined by the likes of the brilliant but doomed trumpeter Booker Little, the legendary reedman/flautist Eric Dolphy, the gifted composer and steady pianist Mal Waldron, and the great bassist Art Davis, the musical blend grows richer with every note.Add to that blend the wonderful voice of a young Abbey Lincoln, and you have an especially powerful musical date. Abbey is at her best on the caustic "Mendacity," which skewers specifically those who dragged their feet on voting rights in the '60s. But the song's contempt for political temporizing could find a sympathetic ear in any decade. This is music with a heart and soul, and the genuine emotion of the music stands out from the first listen and never wanes. A grand release from one of our greatest musicians and tireless musical innovators."
A MUST HAVE album if you like afro-cuban influenced jazz!!!
Holten Norris ( | New York City area | 09/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the afro-cuban influenced jazz sound I've been searching for for years!! (NO exaggeration). Too much of contemporary latin influenced jazz seems somehow either too salsa oriented or too mellow lounge sounding, somehow lacking a real jazz sound. But this recording has a terrific hard bop jazz sound backed with outstanding afro-cuban percussion. This is truely one of the COOLEST jazz albums I've ever heard - I only wish they were making latin influenced jazz this great today! If you like Buena Vista Social Club but want to hear a punchier jazz style, you owe it to yourself to check out this incomparable album. You might also want to check out the 40s & 50s heavily afro-cuban influenced big band jazz sound of Dizzy Gillespie on "The Original Mambo Kings" and on the Verve Masters series. In conclusion, THIS ALBUM IS MORE THAN AMAZING - I CAN'T RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY ENOUGH."
Inventive Jazz
wednightprayermeeting | Bellview, CA | 09/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an intense album. Max Roach really shines, taking the soundscape of the drum set to another level.Using this album to voice his social and political concerns, Roach chose top of the line musicians to convey his message, including the exhuberant and masterful Eric Dolphy on alto sax, bass clarinet, and flute.Influenced by, but not flat out Latin jazz, Roach stirs up a blend of sound that is completely original, bordering on the mystical.Dolphy indulges in one of his best recorded solos on the twisted 40s style bop number, "Mendacity."Masterful."