- Amiri Baraka
Max Roach’s biographer and acclaimed poet, playwright, music historian, and activist. Speaking at the funeral of jazz pioneer, Max Roach.
Amiri Baraka–Max Roach’s biographer and acclaimed poet and playwright–delivered the eulogy at Roach’s funeral at Riverside Church. Baraka read the poem, “Digging Max,” that he wrote for Roach’s 75th birthday. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Amiri, I wanted to turn to your poem that you read at the funeral of Max Roach on Friday, reading the poem that you wrote for Max Roach’s seventy-fifth birthday called “Digging Max.”
AMIRI BARAKA: I wrote a poem for Max on his seventy-fifth birthday. This is a picture of Max and I in Paris. And this is called “Digging Max.”
(At Seventy Five, All The Way Live!)
Max is the highest
The outest the
Largest, the greatest
The fastest, the hippest,
The all the way past which
There cannot be
When we say MAX, that’s what
We mean, hip always
Clean. That’s our word
For Artist, Djali, Nzuri Ngoma,
Senor Congero, Leader,
Scientist of Sound, Sonic
Trappist Definer, Composer,
Democrat, Bird’s Black Injun
Engine, Brownie’s Other Half,
Who bakes the Western industrial
Into temperatures of syncopated
Out Sharp Mean
Papa Joe’s Successor
Philly Joe’s Confessor
AT’s mentor, Roy Haynes’
Inventor, Steve McCall’s
Trainer, Ask Buhainia. Jimmy Cobb,
Elvin or Klook
Or even Sunny Murray, when he aint
in a hurry.
Milford is down and Roy Brooks
Is one of his cooks. Tony Williams,
Andrew Cyrille can tell you or
Beaver and Blackwell and my man,
They’ll run it down, ask them the next
time they in town.
Ask any or all of the rhythm’n.
Shadow cd tell you, so could
Shelly Manne, Chico Hamilton.
Rashid knows, Billy Hart. Eddie
From Newark has split, but he and
Eddie Gladden could speak on it.
Mtume, if he will. Big Black can
speak. Let Tito Puente run it down,
He and Max were tight since they
were babies in this town.
Frankie Dunlop cd tell you and he
speak a long time.
Pretty Purdy is hip. Max hit with
Duke at Eighteen
He played with Benny Carter when he
first made the scene. Dig the heavy learning that went with
that. Newk knows,
And McCoy. CT would agree. Hey,
ask me or Archie or Michael Carvin
Percy Heath, Jackie Mc are all hip to
the Max Attack.
Barry Harris can tell you. You in
touch with Monk or Bird?
Ask Bud if you see him, You know he
know, even after the cops
Beat him Un Poco Loco. I mean you
can ask Pharaoh or David
Or Dizzy, when he come out of hiding,
its a trick Diz just outta sight.
I heard Con Alma and Diz and Max
In Paris, just the other night.
But ask anybody conscious, who Max
Roach be. Miles certainly knew
And Coltrane too. All the cats who
know the science of Drum, know
Last dispensation come from. That’s
why we call him, MAX, the ultimate,
The Furthest Star. The eternal
internal, the visible invisible, the
All Hail, MAX, from On to Dignataria
to Serious and even beyond!
He is the mighty SCARAB, Roach the SCARAB, immortal as
our music, world without end.
Great artist Universal Teacher, and
for any Digger
One of our deepest friends! Hey MAX!
AMY GOODMAN: Poet Amiri Baraka, Max Roach’s biographer and acclaimed playwright, music historian and activist.