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Library of Congress Acquires Max Roach Collection

Archive includes personal papers, musical scores and audiovisual recordings

Max Roach
Max Roach

The Library of Congress has announced the acquisition of drummer Max Roach’s personal collection of papers, music, photos, and audio and video recordings. According to a press release, Roach’s personal archive features musical scores, manuscripts, business papers, correspondence, lesson plans, photographs, prints and drawings, and rare audiovisual recordings. Materials from Roach’s musical, theatrical, dance and multimedia collaborations are detailed in the collection, including ongoing exchanges with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Nina Simone, Alvin Ailey and playwrights Sam Shepard and Amiri Baraka.

According to the release, ” There is revealing correspondence about his work with such civil rights organizations as the NAACP and SNCC, as well as with writer Maya Angelou and various associates of Malcolm X.”

This collection totals more than 100,000 items, comprising about 80,000 manuscripts and papers; 7,500 photographic materials; 1,000 music manuscripts; and hundreds of sound and video recordings.

Highlights from the collection include:

• An unpublished draft of his autobiography, written with the late Amiri Baraka

• A holograph score from “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite”

• An unpublished recording-dated Nov. 14, 1964-of legendary pianist Hassan Ibn Ali

• A “Solo on the Drums” rehearsal for the television program “With Ossie & Ruby,” featuring Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Billy Taylor and Max Roach

• An unpublished 1969 recording of Max Roach with former wife Abbey Lincoln in Iran

• An unpublished Cecil Taylor and Max Roach duet in Italy in 2000

• The “An Evening with Max Roach” broadcast, Sept. 8, 1964

• Interviews and performances with Max Roach, Gary Bartz, Woody Shaw, Stanley Cowell and Reggie Workman for Tokyo radio in 1977

• Rarely seen photos of Roach with Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, Thelonious Monk, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Abbey Lincoln and many more.

The Max Roach Collection will be available in the Library’s Performing Arts Reading Room on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The collection will complement the Library’s existing collections of Charles Mingus, Billy Taylor, Gerry Mulligan, Alvin Ailey, Dexter Gordon, Louis Bellson and Shelly Manne. For more information about the division’s holdings of music, theater and dance, visit Library of Congress/Perform.

Originally Published