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Roach, Max

Max Roach

1924-2007

Jazz drummer, composer, educator

Jazz drummer, composer, educator Jazz drummer Max Roach expanded the boundaries of his art. He raised the profile of percussion within American music and served as a pioneer in using his craft as a method for socio-political advocacy for the African-American experience. Following in the musical footsteps of Big Sid Catlett and Kenny Clarke, Roach—as a member of bands led by such notable talents as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie—further developed the art of modern jazz drumming. Widely recognized as one of the founders of bebop or modern jazz, Roach refused to recognize such terms in reference to an African-American art form he believed was prejudicially named by those outside the musical community. Described by music writers as a "melodic drummer," Roach retained, within his solo work, logical constructions built creatively around the composition. As a drummer, educator, composer, and political activist, Roach looked to music as a liberating voice. Roach's use of drums and percussion instruments in orchestral ensemble, the integration of non-standard time signatures, and projects involving rap performers, kept him at the forefront of change within jazz and African-American music for more than six decades. His virtuosity as a percussionist set new standards and enriched American music.

Neighborhood Sounds Formed Musical Education Foundation

Maxwell Lemuell Roach was born in Newland, North Carolina, on January 10, 1924. At the age of four, Roach moved with his family to the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn. Roach's mother, a gospel singer, took him to church regularly and it was there that he received his first musical instruction on trumpet and piano. Roach studied keyboard harmony at age eight with his aunt and, within a year, played piano in the summer Bible school of the Concord Baptist Church. Roach's interest in music was heightened by the sounds of his Brooklyn neighborhood. "You could walk down the street; you heard people singing, you heard people playing," he recalled in Ira Gitler's book Swing to Bop. "The community was just fraught with music."

Introduced to the drums in high school, Roach joined the school marching band. By listening to radio shows and recordings, he heard the drumming of Jo Jones and swing drummer "Big" Sid Catlett, who recorded with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on such influential bebop numbers as "Salt Peanuts." Along with high school friends such as trumpeter Leonard Hawkins and saxophonist Cecil Payne, Roach listened to the latest jazz bands at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Playing in Brooklyn rehearsal bands, he read stock arrangements from the band books of Count Basie and Jimmie Lunceford. On weekends at Coney Island, he performed in the Darktown Follies and accompanied eighteen different acts in one day.

Local jam sessions became the main outlet for the development of Roach's rhythmic ideas. At these fiercely competitive exchanges, Roach's drum technique began to deviate from the standard swing patterns of the period. While still a teenager, Roach often wore a penciled mustache in order to appear old enough to attend after-hours jam sessions at Harlem nightclubs like Monroe's Uptown House on 138th Street and Minton's Playhouse located in the dining room of the Hotel Cecil on 118th Street. At Minton's Roach encountered the house band's innovative drummer, Kenny Clarke, a Brooklyn neighbor who provided him with insight concerning technique and career opportunities. Years later, Clarke recounted in Klook: The Story of Kenny Clarke, how he "persuaded," Roach "to study at Julliard so that he could acquire the knowledge to become an all-around musician and do studio work and everything." At this time, Roach also received encouragement from Big Sid Catlett. As Roach told Burt Korall in Drummin' Men, "I didn't hear that much of Big Sid, except on records, apart from the little I heard on 52nd Street, but I was influenced by his kindness, his generosity."

Gained Reputation with Finest Bands of the Day

When most of the experienced jazz drummers left New York to serve in the armed forces during World War II, Roach's musical reputation and his ability to read music allowed him to find employment with some of the finest bands of the day. At age sixteen he played three nights at the Paramount Theatre with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, filling in for the ailing Sonny Greer. In Ira Gitler's Jazz Masters of the Forties Roach explained how "I had no rehearsal. The stage came up and I was sitting on Sonny's drums all about me. I followed Duke—his conducting was so hip while he played the piano."

After graduating from Boys High School with full honors in 1942, Roach played regular jobs with white groups, and in the evenings sought out more progressive sounds at Monroe's and Minton's. At these latenight club dates, he established a name for himself as one of the formidable "up-and-coming" modern jazzmen. In 1944, Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford hired Roach for their group based at the Onyx on Fifty-Second Street. From the Onyx, Gillespie booked Roach and several members of a new group across the street at the Down Beat.

At a Glance …

Born Maxwell Lemuel Roach, January 10, 1924, in Newland, North Carolina; married Mildred (divorced); Anne Marie "Abbey" Lincoln, married 1962 (divorced 1970); married Janus Adams (divorced); children: Ayodele, Dara, Daryl, Maxine, Raoul. Education: Manhattan School of Music, BA, music composition. Religion: Muslim.

Career : Harlem, various jam sessions, musician, 1942; recorded first session with Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie, 1944; Benny Cater's Band, 1944; Parker-Gillespie quintet, member, 1944; recorded with Stan Getz, 1946; Charlie Parker's group, member, 1946-53; recorded with Miles Davis for Birth of the Cool sessions, 1949; co-founded Debut Record Company, 1952-57; formed a quintet with trumpeter Clifford Brown, 1954-56; worked and recorded with Sonny Rollins, 1956-58; worked with wife and vocalist Abbey Lincoln, 1960s; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, instructor, 1971; M'Boom percussion section, founder, 1972; recorded with Anthony Braxton and Abdullah Abrahim, 1980s; Bluemoon Records, record producer, 1980s; Jazz Institute, artistic director, 1980s; Max Roach's Double Quartet, founder, 1982; So What Brass Band, founder, 1990s.

Awards : Grand Prix International Du Disque 1977; NEA Jazz Master Award, 1984; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship Award, 1988; The Composer/ Reader's Digest Commissioning Program Grant, 1988; Grammy Hall of Fame, inductee, 1995.

In February of 1944 Roach, through the intercession of Dizzy Gillespie, made his recording debut with veteran swing saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the Keynote label. In the company of Hawkins, Gillespie and other talents such as Budd Johnson and Oscar Pettiford, Roach contributed to the numbers "Disorder at the Border," "Feeling Zero," and "Rainbow Mist." One of the first big-name musicians to hire Roach, Hawkins also nurtured the talents of a number of young modern jazzmen. In the liner notes to Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Roach considered Hawkins as "the most adventurous of the established musicians of the pe- riod." A few months after the session with Hawkins, Roach went on the road with saxophonist Benny Carter's band.

Returning to New York in the spring of 1945, Roach joined the legendary Dizzy Gillespie-Charlie Parker quintet at the Three Deuces on Fifty-Second Street. Although he credited other drummers for his musical development Roach, as he explained in The Legend of Charlie Parker, attributed Parker as playing a major role in "…the way I play the drums. Bird was really responsible, not just because his style called for a particular kind of drumming, but because he set tempos so fast, it was impossible to play straight." To compensate for the polyrhythmic texture of bebop, Roach abandoned the steady four-four bass pedal and repetitive ride cymbal patterns of earlier jazz drummers. Through the variation of rhythm, he developed what has been called "melodic" drumming—an approach which freed the instrumentalist from his traditional role as strictly a time-keeping accompanist.

With Gillespie's departure from the group, Parker hired 19-year-old trumpeter Miles Davis, who formed a close friendship with Roach. In November of 1945 Roach, along with Gillespie, Davis, and bassist Curly Russell, recorded with Parker on the Savoy label. Released as "Charlie and His Re Boppers," the session yielded the classic numbers "Billie's Bounce," "Now's the Time," and "Thriving on a Riff." The session also included Parker's "Ko Ko"—a landmark bebop number which, as Gary Giddins noted in Chasin' The Bird, "braced by the cold winds of Max Roach's drums…struck with the violence and calm of a hurricane."

By December of 1945, Parker and Gillespie had replaced Roach in a newly assembled group. Roach then free-lanced in Fifty-Second Street clubs with groups led by Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and J.J. Johnson. He recorded with Hawkins for the Sonora label, cutting the album Coppin' the Bop. His 1947 Dial recordings with Parker included "Scrapple From the Apple," and "Chasin' the Bird." In 1949, Roach attended a session that became part of Miles Davis's ground-breaking Birth of the Cool recordings. That same year, he played on pianist Bud Powell's legendary numbers "Tempus Fugit" and the Latin-influenced number "Uno Poco Loco." Around this time Roach also earned a bachelors degree in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music.

Pioneering Efforts Lauded

In his 1952 work, A History of Jazz in America, Barry Ulanov lauded Roach as "a rhythmic thinker; his solos are not like swing drummers', not dependent on sheer noise and intensity to make the point." Known for his crisp and precise rhythmic execution and melodic sense, Roach was in demand as both a performer and studio musician. That same year, he joined Charles Mingus and his wife Celia as co-founder of the Debut record label. This short-lived company recorded not only solo projects by Roach and Mingus, but also those of jazzmen such as Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Kenny Dorham, and J.J. Johnson. In May of 1953 Roach and Mingus, along with Gillespie, Parker, and Bud Powell, took part in an all-star concert at Toronto's Massey Hall. The concert, recorded on-stage by Mingus, was later released as the Debut recording The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall. In To Be or Not to Bop, Roach recalled the concert, "…everybody was in complete command, everybody had a wonderful time. It was a real happy, happy day."

In 1953, Roach arrived in Hermosa Beach, California to replace drummer Shelly Mann in the Lighthouse All-Stars. During the following year, Roach brought trumpeter Clifford Brown from New York to California and assembled a quintet that included Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow. In West Coast Jazz, Ted Gioia noted that Roach and Brown "were about to become the most prominent members in one of the finest—if not best—jazz combos of the early 1950s." From sessions recorded in Los Angeles during August of 1954, the quintet recorded its first LP Brown and Roach Incorporated. This release was followed in 1955 by the album Clifford Brown and Max Roach.

These recordings received acclaim from both musicians and music critics. Following the departure of Land from the quintet in 1955, Roach and Brown recruited the talents of saxophonist Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins. The horns of Brown and Rollins, along with Roach's inventively propulsive drumming, proved to be a brilliant combination. Rollins' recording debut with the group occurred on the 1956 album, Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street. Like the group's earlier recordings, At Basin Street showcased Roach's masterful extended solos. The quintet's success, however, was cut short in June of 1956 when Brown and Powell were killed in an automobile accident. "Max used to tell me all the time how he loved playing with Brownie," related Miles Davis in his memoir Miles. "His death really got to Max and he didn't pull out of it for a long time."

After the deaths of Brown and Powell, Roach performed in a trio with Rollins and bassist George Morrow. In April of 1956, he appeared on saxophonist Johnny Griffin's album, Introducing Johnny Griffin. Two months later, he provided accompaniment for Rollins' groundbreaking solo album, Saxophone Colossus. A brilliant showcase of material, this album included "St. Thomas," a Caribbean-inspired number in which, as Ira Gitler observed in the album's liner notes, "Max shines in his featured spot, once again demonstrating his musical approach to the drums." Roach's performance on the album Blue 7 "shows," as Gunther Sculler commented in Jazz Panorama, "that exciting drum solos need not be just an un-thinking burst of energy—they can be interesting and meaningful compositions." In December of 1956 Roach, along with bassist Oscar Pettiford, formed the rhythm section for Thelonious Monk's Riverside album Brilliant Corners. Roach's contributions to Brilliant Corners included playing the tympani on Monk's classic "Bemsha Swing." As Thomas Fetterling remarked in Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, "[Roach] supplanted his kit with tympani, giving the rather simple theme a powerful allure. During [Sonny] Rollins' solo he makes the tympani thunder." In February of 1958, Roach and Pettiford formed a trio with Rollins for the saxophonist's celebrated Riverside album, Freedom Suite.

Advocated for Civil Rights

Roach entered the 1960s committed to the struggle against racism. His outspoken views on race were reflected in the 1960 Atlantic album We Insist! Freedom Now. In July of the same year, he joined Mingus in a protest against the cancellation of the Newport Jazz Festival by staging a "rebel festival" at the nearby Cliff Walk Manor Hotel. The alternative event attracted such talents as Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones, Ornette Coleman, and vocalist Anne Marie "Abbey" Lincoln. Soon after the event, in a 1961 issue of Down Beat, Roach boldly stated that he would "never again play anything" that did not "have social significance." That same year, Roach infused the voice of racial protest into his recording of Percussion Bitter, Sweet. This album showcased a number of original compositions in the company of such musicians as Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Julian Priester, Clifford Jordan, and Mal Waldron. Vocalist Abbey Lincoln appeared on the tracks, "Garvey's Ghost," which was dedicated to the Jamaican-born black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, and the ballad "Mendacity," which sardonically mocked American democracy and its promise of racial equality.

Roach married Abbey Lincoln in 1962 and, over the next decade, the two collaborated extensively, even after the marriage eventually ended in divorce. Trained as a rhythm and blues singer, Lincoln expanded her musical horizons by recording with jazz accompanists. In Down Beat, Lincoln described the "handsome, sophisticated," Roach as an inspiring companion who "gave me sanctuary." Devoted to expanding the horizons of African-American music, Roach fused jazz with elements of Negro spirituals to create a voice of artistic expression and social protest. As drummer-bandleader, Roach wrote and arranged choral and orchestral works, the first of which appeared on the album It's Time in 1962. In September of the same year, Roach and Mingus provided the accompaniment for Duke Ellington's Blue Note recording, Money Jungle. The album, which placed Ellington with "two musicians of the next generation, both of whom idolized him, produced some splendidly forthright, if none too well recorded, playing by all three." remarked Brian Priestly in Mingus.

In 1971 Roach began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he became a key figure in establishing a jazz major. That same year, he recorded Lift Every Voice and Sing, (dedicated to Paul Robeson) with a twenty-two member gospel choir. In 1972, he founded the M'Boom, a ten-man percussion ensemble featuring over one hundred different Third World instruments, including vibes, steel pans, marimbas and chimes. In 1979 and 1980, he joined pianist Cecil Taylor for a series of concerts and spent the rest of the decade recording with jazzmen such as Abdullah Abrahim, Cecil Bridgewater, and Odoen Pope. Peter Keepnews of the New York Times, remembered the Max Roach Double Quartet of the mid-1980s as perhaps Roach's "most ambitious experiment," for in it Roach gave string musicians equal footing with others in the ensemble, allowing them to improvise and swing as never before. In 1987, Roach further pursued his diverse musical vision by contributing to the score of "Swingin' The Dream" an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Midsummer's Night Dream." During the following year, he appeared with the Japanese drum troupe Kodo, and became the first jazz musician to win a MacArthur Foundation grant for creative genius.

Throughout the 1990s, Roach was involved in numerous collaborations and creative settings. He recorded the two-CD set, To the Max!, in 1992 and performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Always attentive to new musical ideas, Roach viewed rap as a creative improvisational form and collaborated with MTV's rap-music host Fab Five Freddie in recording the program From Bebop to Hip-hop. Roach's sextet performed with the Abyssinian Baptist choir in 1997. In 1998, Roach performed with his So What Brass Quintet, which was comprised of five brass instruments and drums, and with dancers in choreographer Donald Byrd's production "Jazz Train." He performed live until at least 2001, when he appeared with his Quartet at the 2001 JazzFest in New Orleans. Roach's last recording followed in 2002 with trumpeter Clark Terry. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead found Roach's style on Friendship spare when compared with his dynamic recordings from the 1970s, according to his review of the recording for National Public Radio; yet Whitehead concluded that Roach still "phrases with the clarity and grace of a tap dancer."

Roach's musical career offers a timeline of the creative legacy of modern African-American music. His ability to embrace new musical ideas throughout his career exemplified his vast creative vision and boundless desire to interpret the world around him. While alive, Roach took it as his "mission," commented Ben Sidran in Talking Jazz: An Oral History, "to keep the long revolution marching forward to a new beat." He died on August 16, 2007, in New York City. Roach's "superior quality of sound," as Wynton Marsalis observed in a 1988 New York Times article about jazz, "is one of the marvels of contemporary music." For his percussive talents, Marsalis described Roach as "a peerless master." For setting standards in American music and for using his music to advocate for his culture, Roach remains a man to be admired.

Selected works

Recordings

Coleman Hawkins, 1944, Classic Records, (France), 1995.

(With Charlie Parker)

The Very Best of Bird, Warner Brothers.

Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve, Verve, 1989.

The Legendary Dial Masters, Vol. I, Stash, 1989.

Charlie Parker, Swedish Schnapps, (sessions including Roach recorded 1949 and 1951), Verve, 1991.

Charlie Parker, Jazz Masters 15, Verve, 1994.

Yardbird Suite, The Ultimate Charlie Parker Collection, Rhino, 1997.

(With others)

Dexter Gordon, Dexter Rides Again, (1946), Savoy, 1992.

Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool, (1949) Capitol, 1989.

Compact Jazz, Bud Powell, (1949-1950), Verve, 1993.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2, (1951), Blue Note, 1989.

The Quintet, Jazz at Massey Hall, (Debut 1953), Original Jazz Classics, 1989.

Clifford Brown, Brownie, (1954-1956), Emarcy, (ten CD box set).

Charles Mingus, Jump Monk, Debut (Debut 1955), Original Jazz Classics, 1990.

Thad Jones, (Debut 1955), Original Jazz Classics, 1991.

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, (1956), Prestige, 1987.

Introducing Johnny Griffin, (1956), Blue Note, 1987.

Thelonious Monk, Brilliant Corners, (1956), Original Jazz Classics, 1987.

Sonny Rollins, Freedom Suite, (Riverside 1958), Original Jazz Classics, 1983.

Abbey Lincoln, Straight Ahead, Candid, 1961.

Duke Ellington, Money Jungle, Blue Note, (1962), 1987.

Max and Dizzy: Paris 1989, A & M, 1989.

Friendship, Columbia, 2003.

(As bandleader)

Brown and Roach Incorporated, Emarcy, 1954.

Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Emarcy, 1955.

Clifford Brown and Max Roach At Basin Street, EmArcy, (1956), 1990.

Max Roach Plus Four, Emarcy, (1956-1957), 1990.

Deeds Not Words, Riverside, 1958.

We Insist! Freedom Now, Candid, 1960.

Percussion, Bitter, Sweet, ABC Paramount Impulse! (1962), 1993.

Max Roach with the New Orchestra of Boston and the So What Brass Quintet, Blue Note, 1996.

Films

Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz (interviewee), 1997.

How to Draw a Bunny (composer), 2002.

Sources

Books

Bird, The Legend of Charlie Parker, edited by Robert Reisner, Da Capo, 1962, p. 194.

Davis, Miles, with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 204.

Fetterling, Thomas, Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, foreword by Steve Lacey, Berkley Hill Books, 1997, p. 157.

Giddins, Gary, Chasin' The Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, Beech Tree, 1987, p. 88.

Gillespie, Dizzy, To Be, or Not to Bop, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979, pp. 374-75.

Gioia, Ted, West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960, University of California Press, 1992.

Gitler, Ira, Jazz Masters of the Forties, Collier Books, 1966.

Gitler, Ira, The Masters of Bebop, Da Capo, 2001.

Gitler, Ira, Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition of Jazz in the 1940's, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Hennesey, Mike, Klook, The Story of Kenny Clarke, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994, pp. 63-64.

Jazz Panorama: From the Birth of Dixieland, From the Pages of Jazz Review, Collier Books, 1958, p. 248.

Korall, Burt, Drummin' Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz, The Swing Years, Schirmer Books, 1990, p. 193.

Mathieson, Kenny, Giant Steps: Bebop and the Creators of Modern Jazz, 1945-65, Canongate, 1999,p. 125.

Owens, Thomas, Bebop: The Music and Its Players, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Priestly, Brian, Mingus: A Critical Biography, Da Capo, 1982.

Sidran, Ben, Talking Jazz: An Oral History, Da Capo, expanded edition, 1995, p. 77.

Taylor, Arthur, Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, Da Capo Press, 1993.

Ulanov, Barry, A History of Jazz in America, Viking, 1952, p. 288.

Periodicals

The Black Perspective in Music, 1990.

Down Beat, March 21, 1968; July 24, 1969; March 16, 1972; September 1989; November 1978; November 1990; February 1992; May 1993; November 1993; November 1998.

Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2007, p. B8.

Musician, January 1994.

New York Times, July 31, 1988, p. A21; August 25, 2007, p. C10.

Philadelphia Tribune, June 12, 1998, p. E2.

Pulse!, November 1992.

Washington Post, August 17, 2007, p. B6.

On-line

"Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz: Max Roach," National Public Radio,www.npr.org/programs/pianojazz/previousguests/summer2007/roach.html (August 27, 2007).

"Max Roach," DrummerWorld,www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Max_Roach.html (August 27, 2007).

"Music Review: Friendship from Clark Terry and Max Roach," National Public Radio,www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1277286 (August 27, 2007).

"Pioneering Jazz Drummer Max Roach Dies at 83," National Public Radio,www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12847242 (August 27, 2007).

Other

Liner notes: Saxophone Colossus, Prestige, 1956, written by Ira Gitler; Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Time Life Records, 1979, written by John McDonough.

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Roach, Max 1924–

Max Roach 1924

Jazz drummer, composer, educator

At a Glance

Jam Sessions: The Jazz Classroom

Made Recording Debut

Exemplar of Hard Bop

The Roach, Brown Quintet

Musician And Militant Spokesman

Academic Educator

Selected discography

Sources

Since the 1940s jazz drummer Max Roach has expanded the boundaries of his art while stressing the socio-political aspects of the African American experience. Following in the musical footsteps of Big Sid Catlett and Kenny Clarke, Roach, as a member of bands led by such notable talents as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, further developed the art of modern jazz drumming. Although he is considered one of the founders of bebop or modern jazz, Roach refuses to recognize such terms in reference to an African American artform he believes was prejudiciously named by those outside the musical community. Described by music writers as a melodic drummer, Roach retains, within his solo work, logical constructions built creatively around the composition. As a drummer, educator, composer and political activist, Roach has looked to music as a liberating voice. Roachs use of drums and percussion instruments in orchestral ensemble, the integration of non-standard time signatures, and projects involving rap performers, have kept him at the forefront of change within jazz and African American music.

Maxwell Lemuell Roach was born in Newland, North Carolina, on January 10, 1924. At the age of four, Roach moved with his family to the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn. Roachs mother, a gospel singer, took him to church regularly and it was there that he received his first musical instruction on trumpet and piano. Roach studied keyboard harmony at age eight with his aunt and, within a year, played piano in the summer Bible school of the Concord Baptist Church. Roachs interest in music was heightened by the sounds of his Brooklyn neighborhood. You could walk down the street; you heard people singing, you heard people playing, he recalled in Ira Gitlers book Swing to Bop.The community was just fraught with music.

Introduced to the drums in high school, Roach joined the school marching band. By listening to radio shows and recordings, he heard the drumming of Jo Jones and swing drummer Big Sid Catlett, who recorded with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on such influential bebop numbers as Salt Peanuts. Along with high school friends such as trumpeter Leonard Hawkins and saxophonist Cecil Payne, Roach listened to the latest jazz bands at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Playing in

At a Glance

Born Maxwell Roach, January 10, 1924, in New land, North Carolina; spouse: Anne Marie Abbey Lincoln, married 1962, divorced 1970; children: Maxine.Education: Manhattan School of Music, B.A. in music composition.Religion: Muslim.

Career: Played in jam sessions throughout Harlem, 1942; joined Dizzy Gillespie and recorded first session with Coleman Hawkins, 1944; during the same year worked with saxophonist Benny Caters Band; worked briefly with the Parker-Gillespie quintet; recorded with Stan Getz, 1946; played in Parkers group from 1946 to 1953; recorded with Miles Davis for Birth of the Cool sessions, 1949; co-founded Debut Record Company, 1952-57; formed a quintet with trumpeter Clifford Brown, 1954-56; worked and recorded with Sonny Rollins, 1956-58; worked with wife and vocalist Abbey Lincoln, 1960s; began teaching at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1971; formed MBoom percussion section, 1972; recorded with Anthony Braxton and Abdullah Abrahim, 1980s; record producerfor Bluemoon Records and artistic director of the Jazz Institute, 1980s; formed So What Brass Band, 1990s.

Awards: Grand Prix International Du Disque 1977; recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship Award and The Composer/Readers Digest Commissioning Program Grant, 1988.

Addresses: Management Brad Simon Organization, 122 East 57th St., New York, New York, 10022.

Brooklyn rehearsal bands, he read stock arrangements from the band books of Count Basie and Jimmie Lunce-ford. On weekends at Coney Island, he performed in the Darktown Follies and accompanied eighteen different acts in one day.

Jam Sessions: The Jazz Classroom

Local jam sessions became the main outlet for the development of Roachs rhythmic ideas. At these fiercely competitive exchanges, Roachs drum technique began to deviate from the standard swing patterns of the period. While still a teenager, Roach often wore a penciled mustache in order to appear old enough to attend after-hours jam sessions at Harlem nightclubs like Monroes Uptown House on 138th Street and Mintons Playhouse located in the dining room of the Hotel Cecil on 118th Street. At Mintons Roach encountered the house bands innovative drummer, Kenny Clarke, a Brooklyn neighbor who provided him with insight concerning technique and career opportunities. Years later, Clarke recounted in Klook: The Story of Kenny Clarke, how he persuaded Roach to study at Julliard so that he could acquire the knowledge to become an all-around musician and do studio work and everything. At this time, Roach also received encouragement from Big Sid Catlett. As Roach told Burt Korall in Drummin Men, I didnt hear that much of Big Sid, except on records, apart from the little I heard on 52nd Street, but I was influenced by his kindness, his generosity.

When most of the experienced jazz drummers left New York to serve in the armed forces during World War II, Roachs musical reputation and his ability to read music allowed him to find employment with some of the finest bands of the day. At age sixteen he played three nights at the Paramount Theatre with Duke Ellingtons Orchestra, filling in for the ailing Sonny Greer. In Ira Gitlers Jazz Masters of the Forties Roach explained how I had no rehearsal. The stage came up and I was sitting on Sonnys drums all about me. I followed Dukehis conducting was so hip while he played the piano.

After graduating from Boys High School with full honors in 1942, Roach played regular jobs with white groups, and in the evenings sought out more progressive sounds at Monroes and Mintons. At these late-night club dates, he established a name for himself as one of the formidable up-and-coming modern jazzmen. In 1944, Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford hired Roach for their group based at the Onyx on Fifty-Second Street. From the Onyx, Gillespie booked Roach and several members of a new group across the street at the Down Beat.

Made Recording Debut

In February of 1944 Roach, through the intercession of Dizzy Gillespie, made his recording debut with veteran swing saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the Keynote label. In the company of Hawkins, Gillespie and other talents such as Budd Johnson and Oscar Pettiford, Roach contributed to the numbers Disorder at the Border, Feeling Zero, and Rainbow Mist. One of the first big-name musicians to hire Roach, Hawkins also nurtured the talents of a number of young modern jazzmen. In the liner notes to Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Roach considered Hawkins as the most adventurous of the established musicians of the period. A few months after the session with Hawkins, Roach went on the road with saxophonist Benny Carters band.

Returning to New York in the spring of 1945, Roach joined the legendary Dizzy Gillespie-Charlie Parker quintet at the Three Deuces on Fifty-Second Street. Although he credited other drummers for his musical development, Roach, as he explained in The Legend of Charlie Parker, attributed Parker as playing a major role in the way I play the drums. Bird was really responsible, not just because his style called for a particular kind of drumming, but because he set tempos so fast, it was impossible to play straight. To compensate for the polyrhythmic texture of bebop, Roach abandoned the steady four-four bass pedal and repetitive ride cymbal patterns of earlier jazz drummers. Through the variation of rhythm, he developed what has been called melodic drummingan approach which freed the instrumentalist from his traditional role as strictly a time-keeping accompanist.

With Gillespies departure from the group, Parker hired nineteen-year-old trumpeter Miles Davis, who formed a close friendship with Roach. In November of 1945 Roach, along with Gillespie, Davis, and bassist Curly Russell, recorded with Parker on the Savoy label. Released as Charlie and His Re Boppers, the session yielded the classic numbers Billies Bounce, Nows the Time, and Thriving on a Riff. The session also included Parkers Ko Koa landmark bebop number which, as Gary Giddins noted in Chasin The Bird, braced by the cold winds of Max Roachs drums struck with the violence and calm of a hurricane.

By December of 1945, Parker and Gillespie had replaced Roach in a newly assembled group. Roach then free-lanced in Fifty-Second Street clubs with groups led by Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and J.J. Johnson. He recorded with Hawkins for the Sonora label, cutting the album Coppin the Bop. His 1947 Dial recordings with Parker included Scrapple From the Apple, and Chasin the Bird. In 1949, Roach attended a session which became part of Miles Daviss ground-breaking Birth of the Cool recordings. That same year, he played on pianist Bud Powells legendary numbers Tempus Fugit and the Latin-influenced number Uno Poco Loco. Around this time Roach also earned a bachelors degree in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music.

Exemplar of Hard Bop

In his 1952 work, A History of Jazz in America, Barry Ulanov lauded Roach as a rhythmic thinker; his solos are not like swing drummers, not dependent on sheer noise and intensity to make the point. Known for his crisp and precise rhythmic execution and melodic sense, Roach was in demand as both a performer and studio musician. That same year, he joined Charles Mingus and his wife Celia as co-founder of the Debut record label. This short-lived company recorded not only solo projects by Roach and Mingus, but also those of jazzmen such as Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Kenny Dorham, and J.J. Johnson. In May of 1953 Roach and Mingus, along with Gillespie, Parker, and Bud Powell, took part in an all-star concert at Torontos Massey Hall. The concert, recorded on-stage by Mingus, was later released as the Debut recording The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall. In To Be or Not to Bop, Roach recalled the concert, everybody was in complete command, everybody had a wonderful time. It was a real happy, happy day.

The Roach, Brown Quintet

In 1953, Roach arrived in Hermosa Beach, California to replace drummer Shelly Mann in the Lighthouse All-Stars. During the following year, Roach brought trumpeter Clifford Brown from New York to California and assembled a quintet which included Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow. In West Coast Jazz, Ted Gioia noted that Roach and Brown were about to become the most prominent members in one of the finestif not bestjazz combos of the early 1950s. From sessions recorded in Los Angeles during August of 1954, the quintet recorded its first LP Brown and Roach Incorporated. This release was followed in 1955 by the album Clifford Brown and Max Roach. These recordings received acclaim from both musicians and music critics. Following the departure of Land from the quintet in 1955, Roach and Brown recruited the talents of saxophonist Theodore Walter Sonny Rollins. The horns of Brown and Rollins, along with Roachs inventively propulsive drumming, proved to be a brilliant combination. Rollins recording debut with the group occurred on the 1956 album,Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street. Like the groups earlier recordings,At Basin Street showcased Roachs masterful extended solos. The quintets success, however, was cut short in June of 1956 when Brown and Powell were killed in an automobile accident. Max used to tell me all the time how he loved playing with Brownie, related Miles Davis in his memoir Miles. His death really got to Max and he didnt pull out of it for a long time.

After the deaths of Brown and Powell, Roach performed in a trio with Rollins and bassist George Morrow. In April of 1956, he appeared on saxophonist Johnny Griffins album,Introducing Johnny Griffin. Two months later, he provided accompaniment for Rollins groundbreaking solo album,Saxophone Colossus. A brilliant showcase of material, this album included St. Thomas, a Caribbean-inspired number in which, as Ira Gitler observed in the albums liner notes, Max shines in his featured spot, once again demonstrating his musical approach to the drums. Roachs performance on the album Blue 7 shows, as Gunther Sculler commented in Jazz Panorama, that exciting drum solos need not be just an un-thinking burst of energythey can be interesting and meaningful compositions. In December of 1956 Roach, along with bassist Oscar Pettiford, formed the rhythm section for Thelonious Monks Riverside album Brilliant Corners. Roachs contributions to Brilliant Corners included playing the tympani on Monks classic Bemsha Swing. As Thomas Fetterling remarked in Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, [Roach] supplanted his kit with tympani, giving the rather simple theme a powerful allure. During [Sonny] Rollins solo he makes the tympani thunder. In February of 1958, Roach and Pettiford formed a trio with Rollins for the saxophonists celebrated Riverside album,Freedom Suite.

Musician And Militant Spokesman

Roach entered the 1960s committed to the struggle against racism. His outspoken views on race were reflected in the 1960 Atlantic album We Insist! Freedom Now. In July of the same year, he joined Mingus in a protest against the cancellation of the Newport Jazz Festival by staging a rebel festival at the nearby Cliff Walk Manor Hotel. The alternative event attracted such talents as Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones, Omette Coleman, and vocalist Anne Marie Abbey Lincoln. Soon after the event, in a 1961 issue of Down Beat, Roach boldly stated that he would never again play anything that did not have social significance. That same year, Roach infused the voice of racial protest into his recording of Percussion Bitter, Sweet. This album showcased a number of original compositions in the company of such musicians as Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Julian Priester, Clifford Jordan, and Mal Waldron. Vocalist Abbie Lincoln appeared on the tracks, Garveys Ghost, which was dedicated to the Jamaican-born black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, and the ballad Mendacity, which sardonically mocked American democracy and its promise of racial equality.

Roach married Abbie Lincoln in 1962 and, over the next decade, the two collaborated extensively. Trained as a rhythm and blues singer, Lincoln expanded her musical horizons by recording with jazz accompanists. In Down Beat, Lincoln described the handsome, sophisticated, Roach as an inspiring companion who gave me sanctuary. Devoted to expanding the horizons of African American music, Roach fused jazz with elements of Negro spirituals to create a voice of artistic expression and social protest. As drummer-bandleader, Roach wrote and arranged choral and orchestral works, the first of which appeared on the album Its Time in 1962. In September of the same year, Roach and Mingus provided the accompaniment for Duke Ellingtons Blue Note recording,Money Jungle. The album, which placed Ellington with two musicians of the next generation, both of whom idolized him, produced some splendidly forthright, if none too well recorded, playing by all three. remarked Brian Priestly in Mingus.

Academic Educator

In 1971 Roach began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he became a key figure in establishing a jazz major. That same year, he recorded Lift Every Voice and Sing, (dedicated to Paul Robeson) with a twenty-two member gospel choir. In 1972, he founded the MBoom, a ten-man percussion ensemble featuring over one hundred different Third World instruments, including vibes, steel pans, marimbas and chimes. In 1979 and 1980, he joined pianist Cecil Taylor for a series of concerts and spent the rest of the decade recording with jazzmen such as Abdullah Abrahim, Cecil Bridgewater, and Odoen Pope. In 1987, Roach further pursued his diverse musical vision by contributing to the score of Swingin The Dream an adaptation of William Shakespeares Midsummers Night Dream. During the following year, he appeared with the Japanese drum troupe Kodo, and won a $372,000 MacArthur Foundation grant for creative genius.

Throughout the 1990s, Roach has been involved in numerous collaborations and creative settings. He recorded the two-CD set,To the Max!, in 1992 and performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Always attentive to new musical ideas, Roach viewed rap as a creative improvisational form and collaborated with MTVs rap-music host Fab Freddie Five in recording the program From Bebop to Hip-hop. Roachs sextet performed with the Abyssinian Baptist choir in 1997. In 1998, Roach performed with his So What Brass Quintet, which was comprised of five brass instruments and drums, and with dancers in choreographer Donald Byrds production Jazz Train.

Roachs ability to embrace new musical ideas exemplifies his vast creative vision and boundless desire to interpret the world around him. At the close of the twentieth century, Roachs musical career will serve as a time-line with which to trace the creative legacy of modern African American music. Perhaps more than anything, this is his current mission, commented Ben Sidran in Talking Jazz: An Oral History, to keep the long revolution marching forward to a new beat.

Selected discography

Coleman Hawkins, 1944, Classic Records, (France), 1995.

With Charlie Parker

The Very Best of Bird, Warner Brothers.

Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve, Verve, 1989.

The Legendary Dial Masters, Vol. I, Stash, 1989.

Charlie Parker, Swedish Schnapps, (sessions including Roach recorded 1949 and 1951), Verve, 1991.

Charlie Parker, Jazz Masters 15, Verve, 1994.

Yardbird Suite, The Ultimate Charlie Parker Collection, Rhino, 1997.

With others

Dexter Gordon, Dexter Rides Again, (1946), Savoy, 1992.

Miles Davis, Birth of the Cool, (1949) Capitol, 1989.

Compact Jazz, Bud Powell, (1949-1950), Verve, 1993.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2, (1951), Blue Note, 1989.

The Quintet, Jazz at Massey Hall, (Debut 1953), Original Jazz Classics, 1989.

Clifford Brown, Brownie, (1954-1956), Emarcy, (ten CD box set).

Charles Mingus, Jump Monk, Debut (Debut 1955), OriginalJazz Classics, 1990.

Thad Jones, (Debut 1955), Original Jazz Classics, 1991.

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, (1956), Prestige, 1987.

Introducing Johnny Griffin, (1956), Blue Note, 1987.

Thelonious Monk, Brilliant Corners, (1956), Original Jazz Classics, 1987.

Sonny Rollins, Freedom Suite, (Riverside 1958), Original Jazz Classics, 1983.

Abbey Lincoln, Straight Ahead, Candid, 1961.

Duke Ellington, Money Jungle, Blue Note, (1962), 1987.

Max and Dizzy. Paris 1989, A & M, 1989.

As bandleader

Brown and Roach Incorporated, Emarcy, 1954.

Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Emarcy, 1955.

Clifford Brown and Max Roach At Basin Street, Emarcy, (1956), 1990.

Max Roach Plus Four, Emarcy, (1956-1957), 1990.

Deeds Not Words, Riverside, 1958.

We Insist! Freedom Now, Candid, 1960.

Percussion, Bitter, Sweet, ABC Paramount Impulse! (1962), 1993.

Documentary

Interviewed in Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz, 1997.

Sources

Books

Bird, The Legend of Charlie Parker, edited by Robert Reisner, Da Capo, 1962, p. 194.

Davis, Miles, with Quincy Troupe,Miles: The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 204.

Fetterling, Thomas,Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, foreword by Steve Lacey, Berkley Hill Books, 1997, p. 157.

Giddins, Gary,Chasin The Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, Beech Tree, 1987, p. 88.

Gillespie, Dizzy,To Be, or Not to Bop, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979, pp. 374-75.

Gioia, Ted,West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960, University of California Press, 1992.

Gitler, Ira,Jazz Masters of the Forties, Collier Books, 1966.

Gitler, Ira,Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition of Jazz in the 1940s, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Hennesey, Mike,Klook, The Story of Kenny Clarke, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994, pp. 63-64.

Jazz Panorama: From the Birth of Dixieland, From the Pages of Jazz Review, Collier Books, 1958, p. 248.

Korall, Burt,Drumminí Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz, The Swing Years, Schirmer Books, 1990, p. 193.

Priestly, Brian,Mingus: A Critical Biography, Da Capo, 1982.

Sidran, Ben,Talking Jazz: An Oral History, Da Capo, expanded edition, 1995, p. 77.

Taylor, Arthur,Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musi-cian Interviews, Da Capo Press, 1993.

Ulanov, Barry,A History of Jazz in America, Viking, 1952, p. 288.

Periodicals

The Black Perspective in Music, 1990.

Down Beat, March 21, 1968; July 24, 1969; March 16, 1972; September 1989; November 1978; November 1990; February 1992; May 1993; November 1993; November 1998.

Musician, January 1994.

Pulse!, November 1992.

Other

Liner notes:Saxophone Colossus, Prestige, 1956, written by Ira Gitler,Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Time Life Records, 1979, written by John McDonough.

John Cohassey

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Roach, Max

Max Roach

Jazz drummer Max Roach (1924-2007) expanded the boundaries of his art. He raised the profile of percussion within American music and served as a pioneer in using his craft as a method for socio-political advocacy for the African-American experience.

Following in the musical footsteps of Big Sid Catlett and Kenny Clarke, Roach—as a member of bands led by such notable talents as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie—further developed the art of modern jazz drumming. Widely recognized as one of the founders of bebop or modern jazz, Roach refused to recognize such terms in reference to an African-American art form he believed was prejudicially named by those outside the musical community. Described by music writers as a “melodic drummer,” Roach retained, within his solo work, logical constructions built creatively around the composition. As a drummer, educator, composer, and political activist, Roach looked to music as a liberating voice. Roach's use of drums and percussion instruments in orchestral ensemble, the integration of non-standard time signatures, and projects involving rap performers, kept him at the forefront of change within jazz and African-American music for more than six decades. His virtuosity as a percussionist set new standards and enriched American music.

Neighborhood Sounds Formed Musical Education Foundation

Maxwell Lemuel Roach was born in Newland, North Carolina, on January 10, 1924. At the age of four, Roach moved with his family to the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn. Roach's mother, a gospel singer, took him to church regularly and it was there that he received his first musical instruction on trumpet and piano. Roach studied keyboard harmony at age eight with his aunt and, within a year, played piano in the summer Bible school of the Concord Baptist Church. Roach's interest in music was heightened by the sounds of his Brooklyn neighborhood. “You could walk down the street; you heard people singing, you heard people playing,” he recalled in Ira Gitler's book Swing to Bop. “The community was just fraught with music.”

Introduced to the drums in high school, Roach joined the school marching band. By listening to radio shows and recordings, he heard the drumming of Jo Jones and swing drummer “Big” Sid Catlett, who recorded with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on such influential bebop numbers as “Salt Peanuts.” Along with high school friends such as trumpeter Leonard Hawkins and saxophonist Cecil Payne, Roach listened to the latest jazz bands at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Playing in Brooklyn rehearsal bands, he read stock arrangements from the band books of Count Basie and Jimmie Lunceford. On weekends at Coney Island, he performed in the Darktown Follies and accompanied eighteen different acts in one day.

Local jam sessions became the main outlet for the development of Roach's rhythmic ideas. At these fiercely competitive exchanges, Roach's drum technique began to deviate from the standard swing patterns of the period. While still a teenager, Roach often wore a penciled mustache in order to appear old enough to attend after-hours jam sessions at Harlem nightclubs like Monroe's Uptown House on 138th Street and Minton's Playhouse located in the dining room of the Hotel Cecil on 118th Street. At Minton's Roach encountered the house band's innovative drummer, Kenny Clarke, a Brooklyn neighbor who provided him with insight concerning technique and career opportunities. Years later, Clarke recounted in Klook: The Story of Kenny Clarke, how he “persuaded,” Roach “to study at Julliard so that he could acquire the knowledge to become an all-around musician and do studio work and everything.” At this time, Roach also received encouragement from Big Sid Catlett. As Roach told Burt Korall in Drummin' Men, “I didn't hear that much of Big Sid, except on records, apart from the little I heard on 52nd Street, but I was influenced by his kindness, his generosity.”

Gained Reputation with Finest Bands of the Day

When most of the experienced jazz drummers left New York to serve in the armed forces during World War II, Roach's musical reputation and his ability to read music allowed him to find employment with some of the finest bands of the day. At age sixteen he played three nights at the Paramount Theatre with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, filling in for the ailing Sonny Greer. In Ira Gitler's Jazz Masters of the Forties Roach explained how “I had no rehearsal. The stage came up and I was sitting on Sonny's drums all about me. I followed Duke—his conducting was so hip while he played the piano.”

After graduating from Boys High School with full honors in 1942, Roach played regular jobs with white groups, and in the evenings sought out more progressive sounds at Monroe's and Minton's. At these late-night club dates, he established a name for himself as one of the formidable “upand-coming” modern jazzmen. In 1944, Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford hired Roach for their group based at the Onyx on Fifty-Second Street. From the Onyx, Gillespie booked Roach and several members of a new group across the street at the Down Beat.

In February of 1944 Roach, through the intercession of Dizzy Gillespie, made his recording debut with veteran swing saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the Keynote label. In the company of Hawkins, Gillespie and other talents such as Budd Johnson and Oscar Pettiford, Roach contributed to the numbers “Disorder at the Border,” “Feeling Zero,” and “Rainbow Mist.” One of the first big-name musicians to hire Roach, Hawkins also nurtured the talents of a number of young modern jazzmen. In the liner notes to Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Roach considered Hawkins as “the most adventurous of the established musicians of the period.” A few months after the session with Hawkins, Roach went on the road with saxophonist Benny Carter's band.

Returning to New York in the spring of 1945, Roach joined the legendary Dizzy Gillespie-Charlie Parker quintet at the Three Deuces on Fifty-Second Street. Although he credited other drummers for his musical development Roach, as he explained in The Legend of Charlie Parker, attributed Parker as playing a major role in “… the way I play the drums. Bird was really responsible, not just because his style called for a particular kind of drumming, but because he set tempos so fast, it was impossible to play straight.” To compensate for the polyrhythmic texture of bebop, Roach abandoned the steady four-four bass pedal and repetitive ride cymbal patterns of earlier jazz drummers. Through the variation of rhythm, he developed what has been called “melodic” drumming—an approach which freed the instrumentalist from his traditional role as strictly a time-keeping accompanist.

With Gillespie's departure from the group, Parker hired 19-year-old trumpeter Miles Davis, who formed a close friendship with Roach. In November of 1945 Roach, along with Gillespie, Davis, and bassist Curly Russell, recorded with Parker on the Savoy label. Released as “Charlie and His Re Boppers,” the session yielded the classic numbers “Billie's Bounce,” “Now's the Time,” and “Thriving on a Riff.” The session also included Parker's “Ko Ko”—a landmark bebop number which, as Gary Giddins noted in Chasin' The Bird, “braced by the cold winds of Max Roach's drums … struck with the violence and calm of a hurricane.”

By December of 1945, Parker and Gillespie had replaced Roach in a newly assembled group. Roach then freelanced in Fifty-Second Street clubs with groups led by Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, and J.J. Johnson. He recorded with Hawkins for the Sonora label, cutting the album Coppin' the Bop. His 1947 Dial recordings with Parker included “Scrapple From the Apple,” and “Chasin' the Bird.” In 1949, Roach attended a session that became part of Miles Davis's ground-breaking Birth of the Cool recordings. That same year, he played on pianist Bud Powell's legendary numbers “Tempus Fugit” and the Latininfluenced number “Uno Poco Loco.” Around this time Roach also earned a bachelors degree in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music.

Pioneering Efforts Lauded

In his 1952 work, A History of Jazz in America, Barry Ulanov lauded Roach as “a rhythmic thinker; his solos are not like swing drummers', not dependent on sheer noise and intensity to make the point.” Known for his crisp and precise rhythmic execution and melodic sense, Roach was in demand as both a performer and studio musician. That same year, he joined Charles Mingus and his wife Celia as co-founder of the Debut record label. This short-lived company recorded not only solo projects by Roach and Mingus, but also those of jazzmen such as Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Kenny Dorham, and J.J. Johnson. In May of 1953 Roach and Mingus, along with Gillespie, Parker, and Bud Powell, took part in an all-star concert at Toronto's Massey Hall. The concert, recorded on-stage by Mingus, was later released as the Debut recording The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall. In To Be or Not to Bop, Roach recalled the concert, “… everybody was in complete command, everybody had a wonderful time. It was a real happy, happy day.”

In 1953, Roach arrived in Hermosa Beach, California to replace drummer Shelly Mann in the Lighthouse All-Stars. During the following year, Roach brought trumpeter Clifford Brown from New York to California and assembled a quintet that included Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow. In West Coast Jazz, Ted Gioia noted that Roach and Brown “were about to become the most prominent members in one of the finest—if not best—jazz combos of the early 1950s.” From sessions recorded in Los Angeles during August of 1954, the quintet recorded its first LP Brown and Roach Incorporated. This release was followed in 1955 by the album Clifford Brown and Max Roach.

These recordings received acclaim from both musicians and music critics. Following the departure of Land from the quintet in 1955, Roach and Brown recruited the talents of saxophonist Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins. The horns of Brown and Rollins, along with Roach's inventively propulsive drumming, proved to be a brilliant combination. Rollins' recording debut with the group occurred on the 1956 album, Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street. Like the group's earlier recordings, At Basin Street showcased Roach's masterful extended solos. The quintet's success, however, was cut short in June of 1956 when Brown and Powell were killed in an automobile accident. “Max used to tell me all the time how he loved playing with Brownie,” related Miles Davis in his memoir Miles. “His death really got to Max and he didn't pull out of it for a long time.”

After the deaths of Brown and Powell, Roach performed in a trio with Rollins and bassist George Morrow. In April of 1956, he appeared on saxophonist Johnny Griffin's album, Introducing Johnny Griffin. Two months later, he provided accompaniment for Rollins' groundbreaking solo album, Saxophone Colossus. A brilliant showcase of material, this album included “St. Thomas,” a Caribbeaninspired number in which, as Ira Gitler observed in the album's liner notes, “Max shines in his featured spot, once again demonstrating his musical approach to the drums.” Roach's performance on the album Blue 7 “shows,” as Gunther Sculler commented in Jazz Panorama, “that exciting drum solos need not be just an un-thinking burst of energy—they can be interesting and meaningful compositions.” In December of 1956 Roach, along with bassist Oscar Pettiford, formed the rhythm section for Thelonious Monk's Riverside album Brilliant Corners. Roach's contributions to Brilliant Corners included playing the tympani on Monk's classic “Bemsha Swing.” As Thomas Fetterling remarked in Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, “[Roach] supplanted his kit with tympani, giving the rather simple theme a powerful allure. During [Sonny] Rollins' solo he makes the tympani thunder.” In February of 1958, Roach and Pettiford formed a trio with Rollins for the saxophonist's celebrated Riverside album, Freedom Suite.

Advocated for Civil Rights

Roach entered the 1960s committed to the struggle against racism. His outspoken views on race were reflected in the 1960 Atlantic album We Insist! Freedom Now. In July of the same year, he joined Mingus in a protest against the cancellation of the Newport Jazz Festival by staging a “rebel festival” at the nearby Cliff Walk Manor Hotel. The alternative event attracted such talents as Coleman Hawkins, Jo Jones, Ornette Coleman, and vocalist Anne Marie “Abbey” Lincoln. Soon after the event, in a 1961 issue of Down Beat, Roach boldly stated that he would “never again play anything” that did not “have social significance.” That same year, Roach infused the voice of racial protest into his recording of Percussion Bitter, Sweet. This album showcased a number of original compositions in the company of such musicians as Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Julian Priester, Clifford Jordan, and Mal Waldron. Vocalist Abbey Lincoln appeared on the tracks, “Garvey's Ghost,” which was dedicated to the Jamaican-born black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, and the ballad “Mendacity,” which sardonically mocked American democracy and its promise of racial equality.

Roach married Abbey Lincoln in 1962 and, over the next decade, the two collaborated extensively, even after the marriage eventually ended in divorce. Trained as a rhythm and blues singer, Lincoln expanded her musical horizons by recording with jazz accompanists. In Down Beat, Lincoln described the “handsome, sophisticated,” Roach as an inspiring companion who “gave me sanctuary.” Devoted to expanding the horizons of African-American music, Roach fused jazz with elements of Negro spirituals to create a voice of artistic expression and social protest. As drummer-bandleader, Roach wrote and arranged choral and orchestral works, the first of which appeared on the album It's Time in 1962. In September of the same year, Roach and Mingus provided the accompaniment for Duke Ellington's Blue Note recording, Money Jungle. The album, which placed Ellington with “two musicians of the next generation, both of whom idolized him, produced some splendidly forthright, if none too well recorded, playing by all three.” remarked Brian Priestly in Mingus.

In 1971 Roach began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he became a key figure in establishing a jazz major. That same year, he recorded Lift Every Voice and Sing, (dedicated to Paul Robeson) with a twenty-two member gospel choir. In 1972, he founded the M'Boom, a ten-man percussion ensemble featuring over one hundred different Third World instruments, including vibes, steel pans, marimbas and chimes. In 1979 and 1980, he joined pianist Cecil Taylor for a series of concerts and spent the rest of the decade recording with jazzmen such as Abdullah Abrahim, Cecil Bridgewater, and Odoen Pope. Peter Keepnews of the New York Times, remembered the Max Roach Double Quartet of the mid-1980s as perhaps Roach's “most ambitious experiment,” for in it Roach gave string musicians equal footing with others in the ensemble, allowing them to improvise and swing as never before. In 1987, Roach further pursued his diverse musical vision by contributing to the score of “Swingin' The Dream” an adaptation of William Shakespeare's “Midsummer's Night Dream.” During the following year, he appeared with the Japanese drum troupe Kodo, and became the first jazz musician to win a MacArthur Foundation grant for creative genius.

Throughout the 1990s, Roach was involved in numerous collaborations and creative settings. He recorded the two-CD set, To the Max!, in 1992 and performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Always attentive to new musical ideas, Roach viewed rap as a creative improvisational form and collaborated with MTV's rap-music host Fab Five Freddie in recording the program From Bebop to Hip-hop. Roach's sextet performed with the Abyssinian Baptist choir in 1997. In 1998, Roach performed with his So What Brass Quintet, which was comprised of five brass instruments and drums, and with dancers in choreographer Donald Byrd's production “Jazz Train.” He performed live until at least 2001, when he appeared with his Quartet at the 2001 JazzFest in New Orleans. Roach's last recording followed in 2002 with trumpeter Clark Terry. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead found Roach's style on Friendship spare when compared with his dynamic recordings from the 1970s, according to his review of the recording for National Public Radio; yet Whitehead concluded that Roach still “phrases with the clarity and grace of a tap dancer.”

Roach's musical career offers a timeline of the creative legacy of modern African-American music. His ability to embrace new musical ideas throughout his career exemplified his vast creative vision and boundless desire to interpret the world around him. While alive, Roach took it as his “mission,” commented Ben Sidran in Talking Jazz: An Oral History, “to keep the long revolution marching forward to a new beat.” He died on August 16, 2007, in New York City. Roach's “superior quality of sound,” as Wynton Marsalis observed in a 1988 New York Times article about jazz, “is one of the marvels of contemporary music.” For his percussive talents, Marsalis described Roach as “a peerless master.” For setting standards in American music and for using his music to advocate for his culture, Roach remains a man to be admired.

Books

Bird, The Legend of Charlie Parker, edited by Robert Reisner, Da Capo, 1962.

Davis, Miles, with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Fetterling, Thomas, Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, foreword by Steve Lacey, Berkley Hill Books, 1997.

Giddins, Gary, Chasin' The Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker, Beech Tree, 1987.

Gillespie, Dizzy, To Be, or Not to Bop, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979.

Gioia, Ted, West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz in California 1945-1960, University of California Press, 1992.

Gitler, Ira, Jazz Masters of the Forties, Collier Books, 1966.

Gitler, Ira, The Masters of Bebop, Da Capo, 2001.

Gitler, Ira, Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition of Jazz in the 1940's, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Hennesey, Mike, Klook, The Story of Kenny Clarke, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994.

Jazz Panorama: From the Birth of Dixieland, From the Pages of Jazz Review, Collier Books, 1958.

Korall, Burt, Drummin' Men: The Heartbeat of Jazz, The Swing Years, Schirmer Books, 1990.

Mathieson, Kenny, Giant Steps: Bebop and the Creators of Modern Jazz, 1945-65, Canongate, 1999.

Owens, Thomas, Bebop: The Music and Its Players, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Priestly, Brian, Mingus: A Critical Biography, Da Capo, 1982.

Sidran, Ben, Talking Jazz: An Oral History, Da Capo, expanded edition, 1995.

Taylor, Arthur, Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, Da Capo Press, 1993.

Ulanov, Barry, A History of Jazz in America, Viking, 1952.

Periodicals

The Black Perspective in Music, 1990.

Down Beat, March 21, 1968; July 24, 1969; March 16, 1972; September 1989; November 1978; November 1990; February 1992; May 1993; November 1993; November 1998.

Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2007.

Musician, January 1994.

New York Times, July 31, 1988; August 25, 2007.

Philadelphia Tribune, June 12, 1998.

Pulse!, November 1992.

Washington Post, August 17, 2007.

Online

“Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz: Max Roach,” National Public Radio, www.npr.org/programs/pianojazz/previousguests/summer2007/roach.html (August 27, 2007).

“Max Roach,” DrummerWorld, www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Max_Roach.html (August 27, 2007).

“Music Review: Friendship from Clark Terry and Max Roach,” National Public Radio, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1277286 (August 27, 2007).

“Pioneering Jazz Drummer Max Roach Dies at 83,” National Public Radio, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12847242 (August 27, 2007).

Other

Liner notes: Saxophone Colossus, Prestige, 1956, written by Ira Gitler; Giants of Jazz: Coleman Hawkins, Time Life Records, 1979, written by John McDonough.

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Roach, Max

Max Roach

Drummer, composer

Jam Sessions: The Jazz Classroom

First Recording

Stint With Charlie Parker

Music and Militancy

Selected discography

Sources

An individual of multidimensional vision, drummer i Max Roach has constantly expanded his creative horizons while stressing the sociopolitical and historical roots of his art. Over the last five decades, Roach has been idolized by drummers as one of the premier originators of modern jazz. Rising to prominence in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker during the mid-1940s, Roach emerged as a powerful force in defining the conception and rhythmic foundations of what became known as bebop, or modern jazztitles Roach refuses to recognize in reference to an African-American artform he believes was prejudiciously named by those outside the musical community. In the university classroom and on the concert stage, Roach has devoted his life to musical exploration and the struggle against cultural discrimination among all people of African descent.

Born in Newland, North Carolina, on January 10,1924, Maxwell Roach moved with his family to the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn at age four. Roachs mother, a gospel singer, took him to church where he received his first musical instruction on trumpet and piano. When he was eight, Roach studied keyboard harmony with his aunt and within a year played piano in the summer Bible school of the Concord Baptist Church. Outside of church, Roachs interest in music was heightened by the sounds of his Brooklyn neighborhood. You could walk down the street; you heard people singing, you heard people playing, he recalled in Swing to Bop.The community was just fraught with music.

Introduced to the drums in high school, Roach joined the school marching band. From radio shows and recordings he heard the drumming of Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett who, as Roach told Don Gold in Down Beat, became his main source of inspiration. Along with high school friends trumpeter Leonard Hawkins and saxophonist Cecil Payne, Roach watched the latest jazz bands at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. While playing in Brooklyn rehearsal bands, he read stock arrangements from the band books of Count Basie and Jimmie Lunceford. During weekends spent at Coney Island he performed in the Darktown Follies, sometimes accompanying up to 18 different acts in one day.

Jam Sessions: The Jazz Classroom

Local jam sessions became the main outlet for the development of Roachs rhythmic ideas. Atthese fiercely competitive exchanges, his drum technique began to deviate from the standard swing patterns of the period. While still a minor, Roach often wore a penciled mustache to attend after-hours jam sessions at Harlem

For the Record

Born Maxwell Roach, January 10,1924, in Newland, NC; married Anne Marie Abbey Lincoln (a singer), 1962 (divorced). Education: B.A. in music composition, Manhattan School of Music, c. 1955.

Played in jam sessions throughout Harlem, 1942; joined Dizzy Gillespie and recorded first session with Coleman Hawkins, 1944; played with the Paker-Gillespie quintet, 1946-53; formed quintet with trumpeter Clifford Brown, then with trumpeter Booker Little, 1954-61; worked with wife, vocalist Abbey Lincoln, c. 1960s; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, teacher, beginning 1971; formed MBoom percussion section, 1972; Bluemoon Records, record producer, beginning in 1980s; artistic director, Jazz Institute.

Awards: Composer/Readers Digest Commisioning Program grant, 1988; MacArthur fellowship recipient.

Addresses: Management Brad Simon Organization, 122 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022.

nightclubs like Monroes Uptown House on 138th Street and Mintons Playhouse located next to the Hotel Cecil on 118th Street.

When most of the experienced jazz drummers left New York to serve in the armed services during World War II, Roachs musical reputation and his ability to read music allowed him to find employment in some of the finest bands of the period. At age 16 he played three nights at the Paramount Theater with Duke Ellingtons Orchestra, filling for the ailing Sonny Greer. I had no rehearsal, he explained in Jazz Masters of the Forties.The stage came up and I was sitting on Sonnys drums all about me. I followed Dukehis conducting was so hip while he played the piano.

After graduating from high school with full honors in 1942, Roach set out to study bebop at jam sessions around the city. In the evenings, following his regular jobs at white clubs, Roach traveled uptown to play at Monroes and Mintons. At these late-night dates he established a name as one of the most formidable of the up-and-coming modern jazzmen.

In 1944, Gillespie and bassist Oscar Pettiford hired him to play with their group at the Onyx Club on 52nd Street. Upon first hearing Roach at the Onyx Club, drummer Stan Levey recalled to Down Beat, I was petrified. Max was a radically new experience for me. He was completely different in his technique and musical approach.

First Recording

During the same year, Roach made his recording debut with veteran swing saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the Apollo label. One of the first big-name musicians to hire Roach, Hawkins nurtured the talents of a number of young modem jazzmen. In Song of the Hawk, Roach stated that when the movement was in its infancy Coleman was the guy who encouraged many of us. He always made me feel like something. A few months following the session with Hawkins, Roach went on the road with saxophonist Benny Carters band.

Returning to New York in the spring of 1945, Roach joined the legendary Dizzy Gillespie-Charlie Parker quintet at the Three Deuces on 52nd Street. After Dizzy left the group, 19-year-old Miles Davis took over the trumpet chair. Davis related in his autobiography Miles that everybody was talking about Max becoming the next Kenny Clarke, who was considered bebops top drummer. Max and I were roommates and went everywhere together. All I wanted to do was play with Bird [Parker] and Max and make some good music. Early in 1945 Roach and Davis, along with Gillespie on piano and trumpet, backed Parker on the recording Charlie and His Reeboppers, producing the classic numbers Billies Bounce, Nows the Time, Thriving on a Riff, and Ko Ko.

Stint With Charlie Parker

Working with Parkers quintet between 1946 and 1953 allowed Roach artistic freedom to create new rhythmic patterns to accompany the complex arrangements and often breakneck tempos of modernist jazz. Everything was on the edge with Bird, he told Suzanne McElfresh in Down Beat, you never knew what he was going to do musically, but it always worked out. To compensate for the polyrhythmic texture of bebop, Roach abandoned the steady four-four bass pedal and repetitive ride cymbal patterns of earlier jazz drummers. Through the variation of rhythm he developed what has been called melodic drummingan approach which freed the instrumentalist from his traditional role as time-keeping accompanist.

Aside from taking part in Daviss groundbreaking recording Birth of the Cool in 1949, Roach played on pianist Bud Powells legendary Latin-influenced Uno Poco Loco, which appeared on the Blue Note label in 1951. Around this time Roach also earned a bachelors degree in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music.

In 1954, Roach and trumpeter Clifford Brown formed a quintet featuring saxophonist Harold Land and pianist Richie Powell. Their recordings for Mercurys Emarcy label received acclaim from musicians and critics. Upon the departure of Land in 1955, Roach and Brown recruited the talents of saxophonist Walter Sonny Rollins. The horns of Brown and Rollins, along with Roachs inventively propulsive drumming, proved a brilliant combination. The groups success, however, was short-livedBrown and Powell died in a auto accident in 1956.

During this same period, Roach met rhythm and blues singer Ann Marie Abbey Lincoln. Through Roachs encouragement, Lincoln began to record with jazz accompanists. When he came to see me he was just wonderful to be around, handsome, sophisticated, related Lincoln in Down Beat, he gave me sanctuary. Married in 1962, Roach and Lincoln formed a musical association which would last over ten years.

Music and Militancy

Roach entered the decade of the 1960s committed to the struggle against racial subjugation. Together Lincoln and Roach became outspoken critics of white society. In 1961, Roach explained in Down Beat that he would never again play anything that did not have social significance. Devoted to expanding the horizons of African-American music, Roach fused jazz with elements of Negro spirituals to create a voice of artistic expression and social protest.

As drummer-bandleader, Roach wrote and arranged choral and orchestral works, the first of which appeared on the album Its Time in 1962. His work Percussion BitterSweet remains a testament of the times, blending political passions with the vocals of Lincoln and the first-rate musicianship of Clifford Jordan, Julian Priester, and Booker Little.

In 1971, Roach began teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he helped establish a jazz major. A year later, he founded the MBoom, an all-percussion ten-man ensemble featuring over a hundred different Third World instruments, including vibes, steel pans, marimbas, and chimes. For over 20 years MBoom has been active playing concerts and making appearances on recordings such as 1992s To the Max! In keeping with current musical trends, Roach collaborated with MTVs rap-music host Fab Five Freddie in recording the program From Bebop to Hip-hop. Always attentive to new musical ideas, Roach views rap as a creative form based upon the African art of the spoken word. I hear the Charlie Parkers in these young people, explained Roach in the Metro Times.Theyve figured out a way to improvise on a subject the way we improvised on thematic material.

That Roach continues to embrace new musical ideas exemplifies his vast creative vision and his incessant need to interpret the world around him. At the close of the twentieth century, Roachs musical career will serve as a time line with which to trace the creative legacy of modern African-American music. Drummer, educator, and composer, as well as political activist, Roach has brought new direction and meaning to the art of jazz drumming.

Selected discography

(With Clifford Brown) At Basin Street, Mercury, 1956.
Its Time, Impulse, 1962.
(With Parker) Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve, Verve, 1989.
(With Dizzy Gillespie) Max & Dizzy: Paris 1989, A&M,

1989.
To the Max!, Bluemoon, 1992.
(With Miles Davis) Birth of the Cool, Capitol.
Bright Moments, Soul Note.
Drums Unlimited, Atlantic.
Percussion BitterSweet, Impulse.
Percussion Ensemble, Mercury.
Quartet, Fantasy.
(With Charlie Parker) The Very Best of Bird, Warner Bros.
We Insist! Freedom Now, Candid.

Sources

Books

Davis, Miles, with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Gillespie, Dizzy, To Be, or Not to Bop, Doubleday, 1979.

Gitler, Ira, Jazz Masters of the Forties, Collier Books, 1966.

Gitler, Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition of Jazz in the 1940s, Oxford University Press, 1985.

Taylor, Arthur, Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, Da Capo Press, 1993.

Periodicals

Black Perspective in Music, 1990.

Detroit Free Press, December 6, 1991.

Down Beat, March 21, 1968; July 24,1969; March 16,1972; November 1978; September 1989; November 1990; February 1992; May 1993; November 1993.

Metro Times (Detroit), December 4, 1991.

Musician, January 1994.

Pulse!, September 1992; November 1992.

John Cohassey

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"Roach, Max." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Roach, Max." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/roach-max