Friday and Saturday, February 22 + 23 – 7pm

We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite by The Fresh Cut Orchestra.

A timely restaging of We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, a seminal recording from the civil rights era. The piece will be performed by the NYC / Philadelphia-based ensemble Fresh Cut Orchestra with vocalist Melanie Charles. Recorded in the fall of 1960, the Freedom Now Suite was the most openly political jazz recording ever made, combining musical prowess with political dialogue. Nearly 60 years later, the issues posed by We Insist! are still relevant to our current political moment.

$10 – $20 suggested donation

Presented as a part of Come Hear North Carolina, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Arts Council. Additional support provided by UNC Asheville.


About Fresh Cut Orchestra

The music of the Fresh Cut Orchestra is “a range of music here that might broaden your context, from tight Ellingtonian ballads to squalling empathetic vamp tunes to post-rock and electronica.” (The New York Times, Ben Ratliff.)

The Fresh Cut Orchestra started with a commission from Lenny Seidman of the fabled Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, PA. He brought the three bandleaders together, and gave them funding to produce an original work for large ensemble. The Fresh Cut Orchestra has hence gone on to receive funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. They have released two full length records on Ropeadope Records.


About Melanie Charles

Melanie Charles is a Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, actress, and flutist of Haitian descent, with a creative fluidity spanning jazz, soul, experimental, and Haitian roots music. Charles graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music with a BFA in vocal jazz performance and trained under the tutelage of jazz masters Reggie Workman, Charles Tolliver, Junior Mance, Janet Lawson, Carla Cook, and Billy Harper, has worked with Herlin Riley, Ellis Marsalis, Pedrito Martinez, ELEW, Jean Grae, SZA, Jussie Smollet, the Gorillaz.  Her recent television appearances include Good Morning America, SNL, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  


About We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite

“A revolution is unfurling-America’s unfinished revolution. It is unfurling in lunch counters, buses, libraries and schools-wherever the dignity and potential of men are denied. Youth and idealism are unfurling. Masses of Negroes are marching onto the stage of history and demanding their freedom now!'” – A. Phillip Randolph (Album Liner Notes, We Insist! The Freedom Now Suite.)

Written in 1960 by drummer Max Roach and writer-singer Oscar Brown Jr., with vocals by Abbey Lincoln, We Insist! The Freedom Now Suite is a cry from the heart of the civil rights movement and a timeless work on the power of freedom.

Read more from The Jazz Times, the BBC and Revive Music.