What did Max Roach do?

JDA

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There was a story after Clifford Brown passed away he became devoted to well the Black community and chose to be a role model- that just happened to be - and did it- thru drums and music.
He was carrying a message happened to be drums his chosen field to relay that message.


There's a Larger Aspect than just Jazz drummer with him..Altho that was important-- he chose being a community/ world role model as the larger picture- hard to explain. Almost a cinematic vibe

Great hi hat fanning in the above he always did
 
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Hop

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One measure of greatness is the influence that a person has on others. That audio clip above is but one excellent example of how influential Max was to the drumming community especially a burgeoning rock scene (not to even speak of the jazz scene). It's not hard to figure out who was listening to and copping the content of the Max Roach library and applying it in the rock field.
 

wflkurt

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I honestly dont really care for jazz... (please dont kick me off DFO) but i know its worth studying. I think since ive grown up with crystal clear highly produced drum tracks, those early jazz recordings are hard to listen to. When I watch and hear other great jazz players that he is grouped with, I immediately understand why they are esteemed. Also, everything ive seen he has such a stone cold face and hes not smiling. To me, the funnest thing about watching anyone play their instrument is watching how much fun they are having. Maybe he was on a mission? From what you guys were saying, i guess he maybe just had a goal in mind? Also please understand guys im not trying to troll. I really appreciate the schooling and I will definitely check out the suggested material :)

I actually applaud you for being so open minded. It's not easy in this day and age when everything is instantly available. I'm actually in a big jazz phase myself right now. This isn't new for me as I played jazz in my high school band in the 80's and have listened to jazz most of my life. The change is that my stepson wanted apple music for his phone and at first I didn't care much one way or the other. After using it to download songs I had to learn for my band, I realized how cool and easy it was and that I had tons of room to store music. I have been downloading all kind of cool 50's and 60's jazz. If I don't like something, it can be just as easily deleted. Whike i do miss the old school part of owning an actual album, that way of purchasing music was really a commitment of sorts. If I bought an album and didn't like it, I was pretty much stuck with it. This new way has just given me a lot of opportunity to check out a lot of stuff that I probably would not have otherwise gone out and purchased.

I was fortunate to see a fair amount of these jazz guys at the end of their careers. I saw Max with a band that only consisted of horns. No bass, no piano, just horns. Max's playing was very tribal and it had a great pulse to it that really got inside of me. At one point as I was standing in line to get in, I saw this gentleman standing over by the window looking out at the Boston skyline. I stepped away for a second to talk to the guy and then got back in line. My friend asked who i was just talking to and I said Max! He was all alone and I thanked him for all the years of inspiration. He was very gracious and since I was holding my ticket, he offered to sign the back which I still have.

One thing I love about his solos, other than being very musical was his ability to keep a constant pulse going while soloing. It almost sounds like two drummers are playing. I also love the high tuning of his drums.

Question for anyone here? Does anyone know if Max was a K. Zildjian guy or did he play A's? Just curious.
 

tkillian

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Poco rit.

You answered your own question in the first sentence of post #15.

No need to go any further.

If you do eventually hooked on jazz and study/listen you will figure out Max. Sounds like you are moving in that direction. Thats cool. Lots of great answers from other members.

Ill tell you when I first got Charlie Parker Savoy sessions I hated it. But my drum teacher made me listen to it every day and it grew on me.



If you don't then I would say just listen and enjoy the music you love.

No judgment of you at all btw.
 

JDA

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if Max was a K. Zildjian guy
Yes. When he was endorsed/ with Gretsch/ was all Turkish K's.
Then (later 50s early 60?) split later to (basically) Ludwig and As
many many many rental sets in later years, fling with Italian drums Hollywood
 
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Ron_M

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Also, everything ive seen he has such a stone cold face and hes not smiling. To me, the funnest thing about watching anyone play their instrument is watching how much fun they are having. Maybe he was on a mission?
I wouldn't put a judgement on that. Just because he wasn't smiling, doesn't mean he wasn't enjoying himself. Concentration!
 

TrickRoll

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Off the top of my head:

1. He pioneered the idea of playing melodic ideas on the drums.

2. He expanded significantly upon Kenny Clark’s comping innovations to create an entirely new language of bebop comping that Elvin Jones and Tony Williams later utilized for their own innovations.

3. He invented an entire language of soloing ideas on the hihat.

4. He was the first bebop drummer to switch between two ride cymbals during a tune to give A change of timbre to different soloists. (The other early bebop drummers - Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, and Roy Haynes - didn’t to this. They would use one ride cymbal throughout every tune.)

5. He was one of the first, if not the very first, jazz musician to use his music as a statement of strong and vocal protest against the treatment of treatment of African Americans during the civil rights movement.


For reference, this is the first Max Roach recording I heard (when I was 12) where I was really moved by his playing. Forgive the poor recording quality, but it is amazing:

Excellent post.

In regards to #1, Max also pioneered playing melodic solos based on the structure of the tune.

His founding and leadership of the percussion ensemble M'Boom was pretty special, too!
 

multijd

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Excellent post.

In regards to #1, Max also pioneered playing melodic solos based on the structure of the tune.

His founding and leadership of the percussion ensemble M'Boom was pretty special, too!
oh yes!!! Don’t forget M’Boom!!
 

poco rit.

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Thank you guys for not being nasty to me. For $10 dollars i have access to so much music instantly, its seriously overwhelming at times. I think if i bought Max’s albums, i would HAVE to listen to justify my payment. Where as now i can twiddle my thumbs and change the artist if my attention wonders. Some of what you guys said about what he was doing went beyond drums, that really inspired me. I needed to hear that. That was what I was looking for. The stuff yall suggested already sounds good. A movie should be made about this guy. Instead, we have Whiplash
 

bbunks

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To the comment of Max looking unemotional, all I can say is that he was a very warm and nice guy the two times I interviewed him. Here's a segment from a 1982 video interview I did with him about Art Blakey

I saw him play 3-4 times - once sitting within next to his hihat. Amazing.

And thanks for asking the question. Maybe over time you'll appreciate him, but it's always great to hear and learn about new music. Keep playing and keep learning!
 

BennyK

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Roach is a cerebral player , academically deep with formidable technique .

He followed in the footsteps of Kenny Clark who, in my opinion, is father to all modern jazz drummers .

Duke Ellington, John Lewis, Ed Thigpen , Oscar Peterson , leaves of that same tree .
 

poco rit.

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To the comment of Max looking unemotional, all I can say is that he was a very warm and nice guy the two times I interviewed him. Here's a segment from a 1982 video interview I did with him about Art Blakey

I saw him play 3-4 times - once sitting within next to his hihat. Amazing.

And thanks for asking the question. Maybe over time you'll appreciate him, but it's always great to hear and learn about new music. Keep playing and keep learning!
Duuude this is so cool. Dang this place is full of knowledge. This was my first post on DFO. The information I have received from this one thread has been more informative than anything Ive seen in the past year or even more! I dont have any drum buddies or elders.. hence why i am here for answers. Which is why i have missed out on all this great information. I come from an orchestra background starting on violin. So i havent had any drum mentors or peers. The guy i took lessons from for a year, was in a ska band.. bless him, but i never liked ska.. lol
 

mebeatee

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Im young. Im dumb. I only know Max Roach from videos on youtube. From what I’ve seen, nothing he has played has moved me. But he is regarded as one of the greats. What should I be focusing on? Is it possible to just not be a Max Roach fan? Is enjoying Max’s playing an acquired taste? In your own words, what were his contributions to drumming?
I'm old. I'm maybe dummer.....dunno.
I have one of Max Roach's sticks....he dropped it at a show I saw him at. I felt fine 'cause if Mr. Roach dropped a stick then I felt ok about dropping one as well....
It is very possible to "just not be a Max Roach fan", and for a variety of reasons as already alluded to in this thread. HOWEVER.....is there an appreciation for him and his music.
There are lots of folks and musics that I could never be a "fan" of, but some of them I hold in high regard for what it is. I can appreciate and respect different drummers without liking the music they play or their playing style/sound/whatever.
Tastes also change over time and this can relate to the first music one hears....to the point I've taught some kids whose only rhythmic exposure they acknowledge is electronic sequencing and didn't know a snare from a cymbal......although as aprogrammer myself this is an interesting path.....
Jazz can be just as alienating to some folks as speed metal is to others.....but the ultimate goal is to at least give the music or player a chance and to hopefully get a glimpse into why the player or music is worthy.
Interesting as well as you mention coming from an orchestral background.....listen to Max Roach on the kit...he sounds like an orchestra.... Also were you able to explore different kinds of orchestral musics....Bartok, Xenakis, etc. all wrote very interesting orchestral music and I know some orchestral players who cannot get their heads around any of that as well.....so it's relative in any style of music.....especially both of them.......country AND western.....
bt

ps....case in point in pic....Max Roach dropped the stick, and a friend did the illustration. The sticks below were given to me by a former student....I turned her onto Alice Cooper's Halo of Flies. She saw him and bought me a gift...ES was the drummer in Alice's band at the time.

IMG_0447.JPG
IMG_0447.JPG
 

multijd

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Duuude this is so cool. Dang this place is full of knowledge. This was my first post on DFO. The information I have received from this one thread has been more informative than anything Ive seen in the past year or even more! I dont have any drum buddies or elders.. hence why i am here for answers. Which is why i have missed out on all this great information. I come from an orchestra background starting on violin. So i havent had any drum mentors or peers. The guy i took lessons from for a year, was in a ska band.. bless him, but i never liked ska.. lol
Welcome to DFO!!
 

bbunks

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Duuude this is so cool. Dang this place is full of knowledge. This was my first post on DFO. The information I have received from this one thread has been more informative than anything Ive seen in the past year or even more! I dont have any drum buddies or elders.. hence why i am here for answers. Which is why i have missed out on all this great information. I come from an orchestra background starting on violin. So i havent had any drum mentors or peers. The guy i took lessons from for a year, was in a ska band.. bless him, but i never liked ska.. lol
I was 25, Max was 57. I’m 63 now.

He’s an example of being creative throughout an entire life - he never stopped growing. His small group work with Clifford Brown is text book modern jazz. His Freedom Now Suite came in the midst of the 60s Civil Rights movement. Free jazz duets with saxophonist Anthony Braxton. His double quartet - jazz quartet and string quartet. M’Boom, his percussion ensemble. He was a professor at Amherst College. And there’s probably stuff I don’t know to mention.

He never stopped learning and trying to be better tomorrow than he was today. If I could embrace a fraction of that I will have lived a good life.

I’ve also had the chance to meet and interview Jack DeJohnette, Art Blakey, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Alphonse Mouzon and a host of other badasses.

And there are some folks here that have some pretty deep experience.
 
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jb111

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Everyone's already posted a lot of great stuff for you to consider. You definitely want to think about Max Roach in the context of his era. As some have said, he is one of the 3 or 4 foundational architects of bebop. This was totally new music—never heard before! Even then, people didn't like it. For some, it was too different from the traditional swing/big band thing that was easily danceable, etc.

Put bop in the context of the late 40s, 50s, into the 60s. Jim Crow laws, civil rights...bop was a way to say things that maybe couldn't have been said otherwise. It's a powerful language, and Max Roach was very clear in his position on such matters.

For me, the record that did it was Deeds Not Words. I would absolutely put the headphones on and give that a listen. Then, if you're down, check out Money Jungle where Max plays with Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.

And ultimately, if you don't care for jazz, maybe you'll grow to like it. Maybe you'll become a total fanatic. Know those records or movies that you didn't really dig when you first heard them, then they became some of your favorites? Could happen like that. Or, you just might be into jazz. And, of course, that's okay, too.
 

bellbrass

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I wouldn't put a judgement on that. Just because he wasn't smiling, doesn't mean he wasn't enjoying himself. Concentration!
The same could be said about Neil Peart...always the stone-faced soldier while playing...the playing spoke for itself, though...just like Max.
 


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