Max Roach and Steve Gadd Onstage? Sorry I Missed It.

Scott K Fish

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Max Roach and Steve Gadd Onstage? Sorry I Missed It

SKF NOTE: A DrumForum.org member posted an SOS regarding Max Roach. Paraphrasing, the member asked, "What's the big deal about Max Roach? I know he's famous. But from what I've seen and heard of his drumming on YouTube, I don't understand why he's famous. What's so special about his drumming? So far, I'm unimpressed."

Thinking back to the first time I heard Max -- it was the self-titled Clifford Brown/Max Roach album on the Emarcy label -- I was transformed. Max's style was compositional, musical. What sounded, at first listen, simple, was not simple at all. It was the style of a drummer with a firm grasp of all aspects of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, and where they applied, song lyrics.

What's more, Max understood and respected the history of drummers. He knew what the better known drum pioneers -- like Papa Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett -- contributed to how the drumset is played. He also knew and respected drummer pioneers who were not so much in the limelight. Drummers like O'Neil Spencer.

I've listened to many Max Roach recordings. I've seen Max perform twice. Once with his quartet and once with his percussion ensemble, M'Boom. And I was blessed to have interviewed Max for a Modern Drummer cover story.

If my experience with Max was based solely, or mostly, on his YouTube fare? I would be missing out on the Max Roach musical experience. Fortunately, Max's digital recordings are plentiful; a must for any serious drummer.

Now, I have to admit there was a moment when I thought about Max similar to the DrumForum.org member. I'm embarrassed remembering it -- but it's true, and at least I learned a good lesson from that incident.

I was having a phone conversation with Max during what was, to the best of my recollection, very preliminary plans for the first Modern Drummer Drum Festival. This was probably in 1983 when I was still on staff at MD. The phone conversation took place in my MD office.

I remember giving Max a general idea of the festival -- to which he was receptive. But when I told him we were thinking of having Max and Art Blakey together, I could sense Max wincing. He said promoters always want to pair Max and Art or Max and other drummers of that era. The idea was old hat.

Why not, said Max, have him and Steve Gadd together onstage?

True confessions, drum colleagues. My heart sank when Max said that. I thought, "Steve Gadd will carve up Max. He doesn't stand a chance."

That was when Steve Gadd's career and popularity were on the steep ascend. He was the new kid in town.

Max told me how interesting it could be to take two such different players, put them together, and see what they could create.

At that moment all I could see was Max Roach, my drum hero, getting demolished onstage, in public. I wanted to avoid that, but I had no idea how to share my thoughts with Max.

Sometime after my phone conversation with Max I left MD, went to work for the Gretsch Musical Instrument, Co., and had no part in planning MD's drum festivals. Who knows how that festival -- which ultimately featured Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, and the Buddy Rich Big Band -- might have turned out if I'd stuck around.

Today, I recognize how shortsighted I was and how wrong I was about Max. Leaving Max Roach and Steve Gadd to their own creative devices in producing an onstage event would have been a gas. I'm sorry I missed it.

SKFBlog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2020/07/12/max-roach-and-steve-gadd-onstage-sorry-i-missed-it/
 

JimmySticks

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Love that story, thanks for sharing it.

Kind of reminds me of the Rich/Krupa drum offs. It was tough to see Krupa get beat up by Rich, but in retrospect, it was pretty cool nonetheless. I just took it as two different drummers with different skills and touch. Both were great in their own way.

I think it might have been the same with Max/Gadd. Respect for both in their own ways.
 

Renno

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Max Roach and Steve Gadd Onstage? Sorry I Missed It

SKF NOTE: A DrumForum.org member posted an SOS regarding Max Roach. Paraphrasing, the member asked, "What's the big deal about Max Roach? I know he's famous. But from what I've seen and heard of his drumming on YouTube, I don't understand why he's famous. What's so special about his drumming? So far, I'm unimpressed."

Thinking back to the first time I heard Max -- it was the self-titled Clifford Brown/Max Roach album on the Emarcy label -- I was transformed. Max's style was compositional, musical. What sounded, at first listen, simple, was not simple at all. It was the style of a drummer with a firm grasp of all aspects of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, and where they applied, song lyrics.

What's more, Max understood and respected the history of drummers. He knew what the better known drum pioneers -- like Papa Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett -- contributed to how the drumset is played. He also knew and respected drummer pioneers who were not so much in the limelight. Drummers like O'Neil Spencer.

I've listened to many Max Roach recordings. I've seen Max perform twice. Once with his quartet and once with his percussion ensemble, M'Boom. And I was blessed to have interviewed Max for a Modern Drummer cover story.

If my experience with Max was based solely, or mostly, on his YouTube fare? I would be missing out on the Max Roach musical experience. Fortunately, Max's digital recordings are plentiful; a must for any serious drummer.

Now, I have to admit there was a moment when I thought about Max similar to the DrumForum.org member. I'm embarrassed remembering it -- but it's true, and at least I learned a good lesson from that incident.

I was having a phone conversation with Max during what was, to the best of my recollection, very preliminary plans for the first Modern Drummer Drum Festival. This was probably in 1983 when I was still on staff at MD. The phone conversation took place in my MD office.

I remember giving Max a general idea of the festival -- to which he was receptive. But when I told him we were thinking of having Max and Art Blakey together, I could sense Max wincing. He said promoters always want to pair Max and Art or Max and other drummers of that era. The idea was old hat.

Why not, said Max, have him and Steve Gadd together onstage?

True confessions, drum colleagues. My heart sank when Max said that. I thought, "Steve Gadd will carve up Max. He doesn't stand a chance."

That was when Steve Gadd's career and popularity were on the steep ascend. He was the new kid in town.

Max told me how interesting it could be to take two such different players, put them together, and see what they could create.

At that moment all I could see was Max Roach, my drum hero, getting demolished onstage, in public. I wanted to avoid that, but I had no idea how to share my thoughts with Max.

Sometime after my phone conversation with Max I left MD, went to work for the Gretsch Musical Instrument, Co., and had no part in planning MD's drum festivals. Who knows how that festival -- which ultimately featured Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, and the Buddy Rich Big Band -- might have turned out if I'd stuck around.

Today, I recognize how shortsighted I was and how wrong I was about Max. Leaving Max Roach and Steve Gadd to their own creative devices in producing an onstage event would have been a gas. I'm sorry I missed it.

SKFBlog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2020/07/12/max-roach-and-steve-gadd-onstage-sorry-i-missed-it/
Im not too keen on playoffs or competition amongst drummers, I definately prefer to hear how drummers add to music through their style and interpretation. Long drum solos always sound like indulgent practice or showing off. It's nice to hear from someone like Alex Van Halen who is very modest and he has great style, and the skills of people like Jim Gordon who was a great artist.
 

Supernoodle

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Wow that would have been fantastic to watch. Max Roach must have been confident that this could have been interesting or even spectacular, trading ideas with Gadd... And an exchange between different styles of drumming makes it much more interesting.

I don't think anybody would have been demolished as both drummers were such team players. Maybe it would have been difficult to give both an equal live sound, Gadd's drums might have come across better on a PA?
 

mebeatee

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Well the two players....Mr. Roach and Mr. Gadd....have/had amazingly phenomenal musical abilities and both have impressive histories and contributions to music(s) spanning generations of musicians and listeners. Both have set the bar extremely high in their craft and art, and have helped to forge the way for the rest of us mere mortals.
Unfortunately there is a thing called "competition" where one person could/would cut the other to shreds...for the most part this being able to do a paraflamoflaflacue with one hand while the rest of the limbs doing something equally "impressive" in different time signatures at the same time....then the other person has to "top" that.
All very well and good, but really all they would have to do is to sit down and play one solitary "note" and all may be said in that one note. So whose "note" would be "better"?
bt
 

bellbrass

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"He said promoters always want to pair Max and Art or Max and other drummers of that era. The idea was old hat."
Good for Max. His mastery of the instrument obviously extended to how the instrument was perceived by the masses. To this day, I wonder just how "Rich vs. Roach" ever happened - a great document of jazz drumming, but two drummers of almost polar opposite approaches to not only the kit, but especially soloing. "Figure Eights" had Max following Buddy down the rabbit hole, only to emerge unscathed, at best.
But I bet that album sold well.
Steve Gadd and Max Roach would have been really interesting together on stage. It would have been a much better pairing than Rich and Roach. Both have a very musical approach to soloing, and can swing the hell out of a band. Roach, however, was at his best when left to his own compositional devices.
 

DavedrumsTX

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Max Roach and Steve Gadd Onstage? Sorry I Missed It

SKF NOTE: A DrumForum.org member posted an SOS regarding Max Roach. Paraphrasing, the member asked, "What's the big deal about Max Roach? I know he's famous. But from what I've seen and heard of his drumming on YouTube, I don't understand why he's famous. What's so special about his drumming? So far, I'm unimpressed."

Thinking back to the first time I heard Max -- it was the self-titled Clifford Brown/Max Roach album on the Emarcy label -- I was transformed. Max's style was compositional, musical. What sounded, at first listen, simple, was not simple at all. It was the style of a drummer with a firm grasp of all aspects of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, and where they applied, song lyrics.

What's more, Max understood and respected the history of drummers. He knew what the better known drum pioneers -- like Papa Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett -- contributed to how the drumset is played. He also knew and respected drummer pioneers who were not so much in the limelight. Drummers like O'Neil Spencer.

I've listened to many Max Roach recordings. I've seen Max perform twice. Once with his quartet and once with his percussion ensemble, M'Boom. And I was blessed to have interviewed Max for a Modern Drummer cover story.

If my experience with Max was based solely, or mostly, on his YouTube fare? I would be missing out on the Max Roach musical experience. Fortunately, Max's digital recordings are plentiful; a must for any serious drummer.

Now, I have to admit there was a moment when I thought about Max similar to the DrumForum.org member. I'm embarrassed remembering it -- but it's true, and at least I learned a good lesson from that incident.

I was having a phone conversation with Max during what was, to the best of my recollection, very preliminary plans for the first Modern Drummer Drum Festival. This was probably in 1983 when I was still on staff at MD. The phone conversation took place in my MD office.

I remember giving Max a general idea of the festival -- to which he was receptive. But when I told him we were thinking of having Max and Art Blakey together, I could sense Max wincing. He said promoters always want to pair Max and Art or Max and other drummers of that era. The idea was old hat.

Why not, said Max, have him and Steve Gadd together onstage?

True confessions, drum colleagues. My heart sank when Max said that. I thought, "Steve Gadd will carve up Max. He doesn't stand a chance."

That was when Steve Gadd's career and popularity were on the steep ascend. He was the new kid in town.

Max told me how interesting it could be to take two such different players, put them together, and see what they could create.

At that moment all I could see was Max Roach, my drum hero, getting demolished onstage, in public. I wanted to avoid that, but I had no idea how to share my thoughts with Max.

Sometime after my phone conversation with Max I left MD, went to work for the Gretsch Musical Instrument, Co., and had no part in planning MD's drum festivals. Who knows how that festival -- which ultimately featured Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, and the Buddy Rich Big Band -- might have turned out if I'd stuck around.

Today, I recognize how shortsighted I was and how wrong I was about Max. Leaving Max Roach and Steve Gadd to their own creative devices in producing an onstage event would have been a gas. I'm sorry I missed it.

SKFBlog - Life Beyond the Cymbals - https://scottkfish.com/2020/07/12/max-roach-and-steve-gadd-onstage-sorry-i-missed-it/
Great story. Because Steve is the consummate musician and gentleman, I suspect he would have only thought about how do I play musically and creative with a legend.
 


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