R.I.P., Max Roach.

The legendary jazz drummer passed away yesterday at the age of 83, marking the last of the bebop icons that developed the form in the early 40s, laying the groundwork for the expansion of jazz into the improvisational heights it reached in the 60s and still continues to aspire to today.

If you listen to nothing else of his, the sides he cut with trumpeter Clifford Brown and the quintet they formed are worth owning alone. (Sonny Rollins played saxophone in that quintet as well.) There are few names as big in jazz circles behind the kit, maybe Art Blakey and Elvin Jones approach those heights. Roach’s essential approach kept time and the beat swinging, while keeping it musical and melodic (as much as that can be done on a drum kit; this is quite a feat.)

Max Roach, Master of Modern Jazz, Dies at 83 [New York Times]


3 Responses

  1. STN

    You pretty much summed it up. In Jazz drumming, there’s Max, Art, Elvin and then everyone else. Man, we lost a treasure yesterday in Max.

  2. Kev – first cut of his I ever listened to was when Max, Clifford, and the quintet were backing up Dinah Washington on a live version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (it was on a Cole Porter songbook collection.) An absolutely powerful Max beat, giving it a Latin feel on the verses, then going straight swingin’ for the lengthy solos. Incredible stuff.

  3. Well, shit. I didn’t know this. Son of a bitch bastard. Today sucks.

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