Mendacity is a timely and, maybe, timeless song. It’s over 50 years old. The great Abbey Lincoln delivers the lyric as only she can. This recording also contains, arguably, the most exciting, poignant, and powerful saxophone solo in history. It was recorded in 1961 on an album called, Percussion Bitter Sweet, by drummer Max Roach. The lineup is:
Max Roach – drums
Abbey Lincoln -vocals
Booker Little – trumpet
Clifford Jordan – tenor sax
Eric Dolphy – alto sax
Julian Priester – trombone
Mal Waldron – piano
Art Davis – bass
When this recording was made, the Civil Rights movement was intense and this song illustrates the frustrations of the time. It’s incredible that the lyrics still ring as true now.
It’s not just the words that are a political statement. Eric Dolphy’s alto solo speaks, sings, and shouts of disappointment, heartbreak, dreams deferred, injustice, disdain, and a demand for respect. He’s honking and sliding and squealing and grabs the listener by the lapels, shaking him in an attempt to make him feel what’s going on. Wake up, you mindless sleepers. Get real! Right now!
After the saxophone solo, the song continues with just as pointed a drum solo and the intensity goes on, and is punctuated by a final lyric from Abbey Lincoln. I‘m including the whole track, but, for years, the version I heard stopped after Dolphy’s solo.
Mendacity retains its emotional dynamite, not only through the years, but also no matter how many times it’s played. This song is a cry for awareness, recognition, and change, delivered by those who have been wounded by political inaction and ignorance.
These artists are sounding a call – for all time – for all of us, to wake up and get real. Right now!
I’ll play it one more time, just to be sure.