Thursday, August 16, 2007

Remembering Max Roach

I absolutely detest having an "R.I.P. blog", since countless truly great individuals - some famous, most only known to their loved ones - shuffle off this mortal coil every day. However, jazz is a pet topic and we just lost a towering and uncompromising figure, percussionist, composer and bandleader Max Roach.

Mr. Roach
also blazed trails as a civil rights activist, global cultural ambassador and teacher. He was also that rarity, a truly open-minded creative artist, always ready to build bridges between generations, nationalities and genres. Proving repeatedly that nothing is mutually exclusive, Max turned conventional wisdom on its sorry, timid ass

Here's a sample of the pure magic the percussion master could conjure from a hi-hat.

I consider myself truly blessed to have heard Max, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Ed Blackwell, Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins, Jack DeJohnette, Dannie Richmond, Andrew Cyrille, Famoudou Don Moye and other amazing drummers in person - and boy, am I sorry I didn't catch Buddy Rich and Jo Jones.

Enjoy this clip of Max' quartet - Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet, Billy Harper on the tenor saxophone and Reggie Workman, the beating heart on the upright bass - kicking serious ass while challenging conventional wisdom in 1977.

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