For a minute (1962 to 1970) Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln were the major couple of jazz in the sixties. Max was a monster drummer who was also a composer, band leader and major social figure.
Prior to the ascendency of Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln was considered the most socially conscious of jazz vocalists. Abbey’s elevation was most surprising in that she was initially marketed as a sexy torch singer and even had promotion in some quarters as the woman who admirably fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress. However, in union with Max Roach, she recorded an all-time classic album, We Insist!, which some critics categorized as “protest music”, especially since the cover image replicated and comemorated the first sit-in of the sixties.
I contend that Europe offered more opportunities to work and far more respect for Black jazz artists than was ever found at home in the United States. A classic example of honor abroad and neglect at home is that the only televised presentation of Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach working as a duo was a Belgian television special.
A major questioned was definitely answered by this presentation: Could Ms. Lincoln duplicate live the intensity of her sometimes wordless vocal work captured for the album? The definitive answer was yes. Check out the generous excerpts of the concert to appreciate the emotional force of the music the duo produced.