Skip to comments.Jazz musician Max Roach dies at 83
Posted on 08/16/2007 11:13:49 AM PDT by Borges
NEW YORK - Max Roach, a master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations provided the dislocated beats that defined bebop jazz, has died after a long illness. He was 83.
The self-taught musical prodigy died Wednesday night at an undisclosed hospital in Manhattan, said Cem Kurosman, spokesman for Blue Note Records, one of Roach's labels. No additional details were available, he said.
Roach received his first musical break at age 16, filling in for three nights in 1940 when Duke Ellington's drummer fell ill.
Roach's performance led him to the legendary Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where he joined luminaries Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the burgeoning bebop movement. In 1944, Roach joined Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins in one of the first bebop recording sessions.
What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and his ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time.
Roach's innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist.
"One of the grand masters of our music," Gillespie once observed.
In a 1988 essay in The New York Times, Wynton Marsalis wrote of Roach: "All great instrumentalists have a superior quality of sound, and his is one of the marvels of contemporary music. ... The roundness and nobility of sound on the drums and the clarity and precision of the cymbals distinguishes Max Roach as a peerless master."
Throughout the jazz upheaval of the 1940s and '50s, Roach played bebop with the Charlie Parker Quintet and cool bop with the Miles Davis Capitol Orchestra. He joined trumpeter Clifford Brown in playing hard bop, a jazz form that maintained bebop's rhythmic drive while incorporating the blues and gospel.
He was survived by five children: sons Daryl and Raoul, and daughters Maxine, Ayl and Dara.
My father was a huge fan. RIP.
One of the all time great drummers. Played with many of the greatest jazz composers of all time.
My favorite Roach story is when he showed up at one of Ornette Coleman's infamous Five Spot gigs in '59 and was so incensed by Coleman's "new [atonal] jazz" that he punched him in the face during the gig and then showed up at 4:00am in front of his apt. building hollering "I know you're up there, m-fker. ...Come down here and I'll kick your ass."
lol....I guess ole Max didn't like "The Shape of Jazz to Come."
I had not heard that. A classic story. LOL
My favorite Roach material is the recordings he made with the Thelonious Monk Trio. Meshed with Monk better than any other drummer, imo.
sad. i think that leaves louie bellson as the last of the top 5 truly great drummers of all time.
max roach- 2007
art blakey- 1990
buddy rich- 1987
gene krupa- 1973
Add Elvin Jones (’04) and Tony Williams (’97) and make it seven. The legends from jazz’s golden era (all the way up to the early 60s) are all gone.
You want to know more about Max Roach? Listen to the recordings with Clifford Brown.
The Clifford Brown- Max Roach collaboration rivals the Monk-Roach stuff in sheer delight, IMO
Oh yeah. ...and there’s a lot more of it, too. Roach/Monk collaborated only a couple times. Roach/Brown was one of the most legendary and prolific collaborations in jazz history. ....two of the very best at the top of their game.
I caught Roach live a few times at jazz clubs in Greenwich Village in the 60’s when I was at NYU..he was superb...I have a few albums up in the attic...I’ll have to see if I can find a stylus for the Garrard turntable..
I’d love to have a time machine to go see them live.
Wow. That’s cool. I’m just a spring chicken so I missed the heyday of most of the jazz musicians I admire.
Though I have seen a few legends in their latter years. I saw Dizzy Gillespie’s last show before he died. I’ve seen Freddie Hubbard, Nat Adderly (cannonball’s brother), the Ray Brown trio, and just last year, Dave Brubeck.
Listen to Getz-Gillespie and you’ll actually hear Max drum a melody.
Who is that old fella?
This is how I remember Max Roach:
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