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NJPAC to Celebrate Max Roach's Centennial with a Concert and Film Screening

originally published: 11/29/2023

NJPAC to Celebrate Max Roach

(NEWARK, NJ) --  New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will celebrate the centennial and impact of percussionist, drummer, jazz composer, and social activist Max Roach with two events - a screening of the documentary film The Drum Also Waltzes with a panel discussion on January 18th and a concert featuring Grammy winner Cassandra Wilson on Friday, January 26th.

Thursday, January 18, 2024 at 7:00pm - FILM SCREENING + PANEL DISCUSSION. Max Roach Centennial: The Drum Also Waltzes Documentary Film Screening + Panel Discussion. Celebrate Max Roach’s centennial with a screening of the new documentary Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes at The Newark Museum of Art. Afterwards, a panel discussion will include Max’s son Raoul Roach and the film’s director / producers Sam Pollard and Ben Shapiro. Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes explores the life and music of the legendary drummer, composer, bandleader and social activist through a remarkable series of creative peaks, struggles and personal reinventions — from the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights years, surveying the heady days of post-war modern jazz to hip hop and beyond.

Admission is FREE. This event will be held at The Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street) in Newark, NJ.

Friday, January 26, 2024 at 8:00pm - MAX ROACH CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: Freedom Now Suite CONCERT WITH CASSANDRA WILSON. The revolutionary 1960 album We Insist!: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite explored issues of social justice and racial inequality through the lens of jazz and poetry. In celebration of the centennial of Max Roach (1924-2007)—drummer, bebop pioneer and civil rights activist—this landmark work is reimagined for today’s world. In affiliation with Jazz at Lincoln Center, this special one-night only concert is led by musical director Nasheet Waits (of Max’s percussion ensemble M’Boom) featuring vocalist Cassandra Wilson, poets Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, and bassist Eric Revis. Experience the modern evolution of the Freedom Now Suite, a piece that continues to live, expand and inspire across generations. Musicians include Cassandra Wilson – vocals; Sonia Sanchez – poet; Saul Williams – poet; Ravi Coltrane – saxophone; Eric Revis – bass; Nduduzo Makhathini – piano; and Nasheet Waits – drums.

Tickets range from $39-$79. This event will be held at NJPAC’s Prudential Hall, Newark, NJ. For a limited time only, a specially priced ticket of $25.00 is available from now until December 25th in addition to regularly priced tickets –Visit or call 888.GO.NJPAC to reserve a seat for this once in a lifetime celebration.

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Cassandra Wilson is featured on recordings by musicians such as Terence Blanchard, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Angelique Kidjo, and Luther Vandross, and earned critical acclaim for her performance on Wynton Marsalis' Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields album. Joining the celebration will be revered poets Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams. Extraordinary musicians who share their gift of the special occasion will be Ravi Coltrane, saxophone; Eric Revis, bass; Nduduzo Makhathini, Piano; and Nasheet Waits, Drums.

This unique production curated by NJPAC will celebrate and educate many on the life of Maxwell Lemuel Roach. Roach is among the most excellent jazz musicians ever; he performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Sonny Rollins. He is widely considered one of the most influential drummers in the history of jazz.

Renowned throughout his performing life, Roach has won an extraordinary array of honors. He was one of the first to be given a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, cited as a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, twice awarded the French Grand Prix du Disque, elected to the International Percussive Society's Hall of Fame and the Downbeat Magazine Hall of Fame, awarded Harvard Jazz Master, celebrated by Aaron Davis Hall, given eight honorary doctorate degrees, including degrees awarded by the University of Bologna, Italy and Columbia University.

“We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we’re master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we’ve been through.” – Max Roach to Downbeat.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, which have reached almost 2 million children, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

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