Max Roach

max-roachMax Roach (1924-2007) was born in North Carolina and raised in New York City. A pioneer of bebop, Roach went on to work in many other styles of music, and is generally considered one of the most important drummers in jazz history. He worked with many famous jazz musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown.

Max Roach - Episode 1

Roach's most significant innovations came in the 1940s, when he and jazz drummer Kenny Clarke devised a new concept of musical time by playing the pulse of time on the ride cymbal instead of on the bass drum. The new approach left space for the drummer to insert dramatic accents on the snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. By matching his rhythms with a tune's melody he created a new way to accompany soloists in the angular and highly rhythmic bebop style. Roach did this with great subtlety and often shifted the dynamic emphasis from one part of his drum kit to another within a single phrase, creating a sense of tonal color and rhythmic surprise. Roach played on many of Parker's most important records, including the November 1945 Savoy session (Ko-Ko) which was a turning point in modern jazz.
CompositionArtistYear
Disorder at the BorderMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Woody'n YouMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Buh Dee DahtMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Ko-KoMax Roach/Charlie Parker1945
CrazeologyMax Roach/Charlie Parker1947
Bird Gets the WormMax Roach/Charlie Parker1947

Max Roach - Episode 2

The large number of important and grounding breaking recordings that Roach played on is a testament to his ability as a drummer. He was one of the most sought after musician in jazz for over 4 decades. In 1952, Roach co-founded Debut Records with bassist Charles Mingus. This label released a record of a May 15, 1953 concert which came to be known as Jazz at Massey Hall, featuring Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Mingus and Roach. Also released on this label was the groundbreaking bass-and-drum free improvisation, “Percussion Discussion.”
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
MoveMax Roach/Fats Navarro1948
MoveMaz Roach/Miles Davis NonetBirth of the Cool1949
Tempus FugitMax Roach/Bud Powell Trio1949
Salt PeanutsMax Roach/Quintet of the YearJazz at Massey Hall1953
MildamaMax Roach/Clifford BrownBrown & Roach Incorporated1954

Max Roach - Episode 3

As the bop era progressed into the late '50s, Roach was known for "hard bop" and experimentation on albums such as Max Roach Plus Four (1956), Deeds Not Words (1958) and Max (1958). He also continued his collaborations with Sonny Rollins. In June 1956 he played on Sonny Rollins' groundbreaking solo album, Saxophone Colossus. A brilliant showcase of material, 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 February of 1958, Roach and Oscar Pettiford formed a trio with Rollins for the saxophonist's celebrated Riverside album, Freedom Suite.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Parisian ThoroughfareMax Roach/Clifford BrownMax Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet1954
DelilahMax Roach/Clifford BrownMax Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet1954
Blue SevenMax Roach/Sonny RollinsSaxophone Colossus1956
The Freedom SuiteMax Roach/Sonny RollinsFreedom Suite1958
A Little MaxMax Roach/Duke Ellington/MingusMoney Jungle1962

Max Roach - Episode 4

This podcast will feature some of Max Roach’s most important solo work. Max was a pioneer soloist, playing melodies on entire the drum set. We start with his 1953 Jazz at Massey Hall solo and move through Drums Unlimited featuring his most important solo piece, “For Big Sid” dedicated to legendary drummer Big Sid Catlett.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Drum ConversationBud PowellJazz at Massey Hall V.21953
Drums UnlimitedMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
The Drum Also WaltzesMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
For Big SidMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
Mop MopMax Roach QuartetMax Roach Again1964