There is one less giant among us today with the passing of the great jazz drummer Max Roach.
He was a virtuoso in the best sense of the word, but also a poet- no drummer ever had a sweeter touch or a more effortless sense of swing. Jazz fans like to talk about how hard a drummer swings, but with Max Roach it never sounded hard, but cool and electric.
He was the perfect bebop drummer- the only drummer with the agility to match and even challenge Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and yet he was never content to be a relic of the bebop era, but stayed forward looking throughout his long career.
His work with Clifford Brown was some of the best music made in the 1950s- it was a band that could have changed the world forever if they had more time. I’m listening today to a wonderful live set (“The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert) in his honor tonight. Fantastic.
Goodbye to the man who made speed elegant and sophistication effortless.
From the New York Times