Friday, August 17, 2007

Max Roach

The great bebop era drummer Max Roach has died. The man played with everyone who was and is anyone in jazz. Ask any jazz drummer about influences and Max will be on their list (if they've done their homework). His style, techniques and approach are as evident in modern drumming as Charlie Parker's playing is in every instrumental jazz musician who has grown up in the past 50 years.

I got to play with Max once, in the mid-80's. I don't know how or why I got called to play this concert but I had some of the most fun I've ever had on a bandstand that night. The other players, including a somewhat shaky (time-wise) Kenny Burrell, were fine; Max was magnificent. His playing was elegant, strong without being overbearing, meticulous, fine tuned to what was happening in the moment. Not to wax egotistic, but Max liked my playing. He said I could make "quarter notes sing... and not everybody can do that."

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