Elizabeth City

Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City

The Museum of the Albemarle was the third of six sites statewide competitively chosen to host New Harmonies. Museum exhibit design chief Don Pendergraft says that “New Harmonies will renew the musical heritage of North Carolina’s earliest settled region.” Northeastern North Carolina, specifically Pasquotank County, was the first home to bebop jazz innovator Max Roach. From June 19-August 1 it became home to New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.

Tar Heel Roots of Max Roach

Max Roach was one of the premier innovators of bebop jazz and a formidable composer. He switched the drum’s role of keeping time on the bass to the cymbal, thus freeing up the other components of the kit to really make music. This style made him a renowned percussionist who performed with Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Sonny Rollins, among so many other jazz greats. Roach recorded with his own groups as well, including M’BOOM, a strictly percussion ensemble. He was highly outspoken in supporting both the civil rights movement and international struggles for independence. Most notable is “WE INSIST! FREEDOM NOW SUITE.” This album featured Abbey Lincoln with lyrics by Oscar Brown, Jr., and hosted a classic photo that commemorates the Greensboro sit-in on the front cover. Read more.