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R.I.P. Max Roach

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Maxwell Lemuel Roach was born on Jan 10, 1924 in New Land, NC. He would go on to become one of the all-time great masters of rhythm. Max Roach's command of instrument, and his musicality as a drummer -- anchored and accelerated the evolution of jazz and moreover everything that is good music. A primary catalyst of the progression of bebop to hard bop -- Max Roach made the drums the hottest instrument on the stage, and was a consummate performer into his 80's.

Max Roach found himself in the jazz clubs of Manhattan in the early 1940's. He was one of the only drummers capable of keeping up with the new sound -- what came to be called bebop -- during late-night jam sessions with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell at places like Minton's in Harlem, or any one of the fine establishments along 52nd street.

But Roach cemented his legacy in Los Angeles. He arrived in 1953 to play for the [Hermosa Beach] Lighthouse All-Stars. Then, in 1954, he started his own group, bringing a young trumpet phenom out west with him. Together -- and in various combos -- Max Roach and Clifford Brown married West Coast with East Coast, laying down some of the finest performances and originals in jazz history... until Brown died in '58 at age 25.

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Roach played with everyone. Double quintets, string quintets featuring his daughter Maxine on viola, and yes solo. He died this week at 83.

Videos of Max Roach in performance after the jump.

AP file photo

Max Roach Live at Blues Alley in DC 1981 (58min):

Drum battle: Max Roach vs. Elvin Jones vs. Art Blakey:

Max Roach - Great Hi-Hat Work
NYT obit via LA Jazz.