Fifty years ago, a United States Senator named John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to mark the first anniversary of a Hungarian student uprising against Communist rule. Noting ruefully that the subsequent revolution had failed, he issued an exhortation: “So let us remember the living as well as the dead.” Kennedy was paraphrasing Lincoln, a senatorial practice that hasn’t gone out of style, judging by our current campaign season. The draft of the speech preserved at his presidential library shows a line drawn through a similar lead-in clause: “Let us look to the future, and not alone to the past.”
It may seem a stretch, but I bear these mandates in mind as I salute the late Max Roach, who is beautifully eulogized two pages preceding this one by Gary Giddins, with an appreciation of Roach’s vital contemporary Roy Haynes. I happened to be speaking with Haynes a few days before Roach’s death, and so the notion was already on my mind in August, when I attended the bebop hero’s majestic funeral at the Riverside Church in New York. There I took note of a pertinent quip in “Digging Max,” a poem by Amiri Baraka reprinted in this issue on page 38. It came during a litany of epithets for Roach, when Baraka dropped one in particular-“Roy Haynes’ inventor”-that elicited chuckles among the crowd. I had to wonder whether Haynes, one of many legends in the pews, felt the slightest sting.