Publicity photo for the 1983 tour shows (clockwise from left): Gayle Dixon - first violin, Cecil Bridgewater - trumpet, Calvin HIll* - bass, Odean Pope - saxophone, Max Roach - drums, Cecelia Hobbs Gardner - second violin, Akua Dixon - cello, Maxine Roach - viola. * Actual bassist for the 1983 European tour was Dr. Art Davis. Photo by Chuck Stewart.
Max Roach’s Double Quartet was indeed a grand affair that will continue to linger in our ears even after the end of the summer. It was made up of the usual quartet with the illustrious drummer, Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet and Odeon Pope on tenor sax (Art Davis on double bass) to which they added a classical string quartet, namely the Uptown String Quartet, made up entirely of women ( Gayle Dixon, first violin, Cecelia Hobbs second, Maxine Roach Max’s daughter on viola and Akua Dixon, cello).
It is well known from prior experience and criticism, how little received and liked, strings are, within jazz music. These noble instruments have been used in African-American music only as mere backdrops of optimism and Hollywood-like music affairs. However, Roach’s bravura accomplishes a miracle. Under his direction and the powerful propulsion of his drums, the strings speak the same language as the winds. The dialogue between them and the trumpet as well as the sax create incredible expressions never before heard, that might give a new and welcomed direction in jazz, at a time when the music itself is stagnant and same-ish.
Review by Franco Fayenz (translated by Patrisa Tomassini)