What did Max Roach do?

fitzsy

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I named my son after him. I think a good start would be to listen to the music he was a part of, and get your ears just out of the drums, and try to hear the drums in the music.
 

gabewellls

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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?
A huge huge part of understanding and learning just about anything is history and context.

Imagine what it was like to watch or hear Max Roach during that time. It’s complex, but some things to consider:

the first thing I’m going to say because it’s the most important thing is always civil rights/human rights, of any time period...it’s simply been a catastrophe in this country for hundreds of years, but it is central when you think about American culture and American music.

moving on,

the musical timeline - the music was fresh and still new to a lot of listeners

specifically the drumming - if you even listened to music back then, let alone jazz or Black American Music, you just didn’t have the exposure we have today, and it was again new, innovative, highly energetic, and POWERFUL music.

on the chance you were a drummer and could afford drums or studying music, and you heard a cat like Max Roach? there’s no way you could ignore such a fantastic player. And he was really one of the first to do it! Can you even imagine what it must have been like to hear and see the stuff he was playing?

So, I find Max as well as Elvin, Art, and Tony Williams (who is my favorite drummer of all time) absolutely mind blowing. Listening to them play is inspiring because they are serving the music on the absolutely highest level which is really impossible for any of us. They are the legendary musicians who I think are like legendary athletes, what they did is practically a fable, it’s hard to comprehend how it was even done in the first place. But they did it. Mad respect.
 

trommel

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So....answers questions with questions(all I asked for was 5), all that typing, very little sound & fury, nothing has been signified. Like so much of music, there is really no wrong answer. Hellen Keller could have done better than you. Have a day!
 

poco rit.

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So have you discovered something that you enjoy listening to?
Since you started out on violin, you might be able to relate to these two recordings - no Max Roach on them but it's just good music:
The Theloneus Monk stuff was pretty chill. I liked Ellingtons Money Jungle. The Big Sid recording with the squeaky pedal. Im just tryna take it slow. There is SO much stuff man. Hey honest question, and if anybody else sees this comment, do you guys listen to jazz everyday? Or how many days a week would you say you listen to jazz?
 

NobleCooleyNut

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I for one would love to have had Max' career and legacy and talent. I loved a line that Max said when asked what he practiced - he responded " Singles and Doubles " he went on that everything was based open those and he needed to get the basics down.

Max had such an interesting and musical style, his awareness and use of dynamics and his melodic soloing always fascinated him. I can understand why Tony Williams loved his playing (and Art Blakey as well). My personal Jazz epiphany started with Art Blakey and then I discovered Max. Both wonderful players with fantastic legacies.
 

Cauldronics

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I think I've told this story before, but when Max Roach is mentioned, I have to tell it again.

Long ago at the Masonic Auditorium during Jazz Fest, Max sat down behind a lone snare drum and produced his brushes. What ensued was the telling of a story on the drum, and a spontaneous creation of a song. You could hear a melody and even a bass line, all while a shuffling, breathing rhythm section moved the mid tempo piece along. But there was no band. It was just him with his brushes on a snare.

I had never seen or heard anyone do that before. The audience was spellbound. When Max finished the piece, there was no sound for a good 10 seconds while people tried to process what they'd just witnessed. And then there was a rising applause that turned into outright cheering and a standing ovation.

That is what Max Roach could do.
 
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thenuge

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Another way to think about Max’s importance is his role in bebop as a music that changed music radically up to this day. Bebop basically said: “the rules of yesterday are gone - do what you want”. Louis Armstrong said they (Bird etc) sounded like they were playing chinese music, which was sort of right. It was foreign. It wasn’t a language spoken yet. No one knew what they were saying, but people liked it because it had enough grammar from the old language to keep people engaged.

That’s true to today. If you are a fan of any 60s to now jazz, that’s where it’s coming from either directly or conceptually. Conceptually meaning bebop said you are now free to do anything and take your influence from anywhere. Miles Davis was in Bird’s band; Coltrane was in Dizzy’s. Tony Williams said Max was one of his 3 main influences due to his technique and melodic playing. If you hear any band playing really fast in any style, that’s where it’s coming from. If you hear a band playing harmony or melody that is nuts, that’s where it’s coming from. If you hear a band doing nothing at all..see Cage’s 4:33/minimalism, and they seem nuts, that’s where it’s coming from. It was a conceptual shift in everthing. I’d include anything interesting that happened in pop music too in the 60s and progressive rock later. Bands deciding to make concept records or be influenced by India or Stravinsky or avant garde art etc. All that was happening at least 10 years earlier in jazz. People know about Charlie Watts’ jazz influence. Led Zep too as was mentioned, and they also used to do a cover of Bags’ Groove, which was a Milt Jackson (jazz vibist) tune. Ironically the Beatles were more experimental yet I don’t think they admitted to a jazz influence much. But that idea; taking influence from anywhere, not worrying about what was marketable and rule breaking etc. That was bebop. All the arts were doing this post WW2. It was a momentous time to be creating. And then Bird would turn around and play a ballad like Smoke Gets in your Eyes and make you cry. It was not all cake and fireworks. The players still needed to reach themselves and the music still needed to reach people.

I hesitate to say that Max was the guy in the midst of all this, since there were many bebop drummers. I would personally only put Roy Haynes or Blakey in the same category. But Max’s role then playing with Charlie Parker, all his session work, his solo bandleader work and as an artist pushing forward and not resting on his laurels for the rest of his life, got him elevated to at least one of the main guys that get talked about. You don’t have to love him or that music, but you need to know your history and give him props as an o.g. in the creative drummer and creative music realm.
 

hardbat

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Just my opinion...
I don't think of bebop as "do what you want". Rather, I think it took the jazz that existed up to that time, and showed that there was a lot more in it than people had noticed. The most striking extensions were with regards harmony and the use of higher elements of the chords, as well as dramatically enriching the available chord changes. It was a virtuostic style that took an enormous amount of practice to master. To play in a bebop setting required building a massive facility and indepth knowledge of chords and scales, and a player who just did whatever they want would be humiliated quickly.

While all these advances in harmony were going on, changes were being made in the rhythm section that better suited the exciting new style - in particular, moving the timekeeping from the drums to the cymbals, using a 4-beat pulse instead of 2-beat, melodic playing, being able to keep time at much faster tempos, and employing polyrhythms both in timekeeping and in soloing. Those changes were first forged by Kenny Clarke, then expanded on by Max Roach, Art Blakey, and bass players such as Curley Russell, Tommy Potter, and others. Max was arguably the most impressive of the early bebop drum pioneers - whereas Clarke probably was the first to carve out these new ideas, Max brought a much higher level of virtuosity, to match that of the horn players and pianists. He set a new bar for drummers to aspire to, and the existence of drumming at his level meant that groups could attempt richer material. Max changed the trajectory of jazz.
 

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In college I had a professor named Warren Smith. He taught 5, or 6 classes of mine. Besides theory 1, the classes had 7-14 people in it. He showed the class how to hold the sticks, and a few basic rudiments. He played, and i thought "man this guy stinks".
At the time i was studying with a well known, touring/studio drummer on his breaks. He had crazy chops, perfect time, and was unbelievable, and that's what I thought a great drummer was. He was, but I had blinders on.
Warren would get behind the kit pretty often, especially in the small jazz classes. He'd play jazz, and i didn't get it at all. I didn't know who he was, and didn't care for his style, or what he was playing.
Oh man, I really blew a great chance.
He played with all the Jazz greats, and would speak of Roach, and some others in the highest regard.
He was possible the coolest, and turned out to be the best teacher I ever had.
Good Warren Smith.
He was Janis Joplin's music director for a period (to start), and never even mentioned it.
I was young, healthy, picked things up (that i wanted to) quick, and only got a fraction of what he had to offer.
Now that I'm super eager to improve, and work as hard as I can, my body doesn't listen to my mind.
Anyway, now when I listen to thoes cats, what they're playing blows my mind.
So, I guess you can say I thought like you.
I don't have a hot tub time machine, so I have to live with that regret.
 

old_K_ride

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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?
guys who've never listened to Max Roach are still influenced by him...they just don't know it...
 

poco rit.

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I think I've told this story before, but when Max Roach is mentioned, I have to tell it again.

Long ago at the Masonic Auditorium during Jazz Fest, Max sat down behind a lone snare drum and produced his brushes. What ensued was the telling of a story on the drum, and a spontaneous creation of a song. You could hear a melody and even a bass line, all while a shuffling, breathing rhythm section moved the mid tempo piece along. But there was no band. It was just him with his brushes on a snare.

I had never seen or heard anyone do that before. The audience was spellbound. When Max finished the piece, there was no sound for a good 10 seconds while people tried to process what they'd just witnessed. And then there was a rising applause that turned into outright cheering and a standing ovation.

That is what Max Roach could do.
Great story man :) i wish i was there
 

poco rit.

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Another way to think about Max’s importance is his role in bebop as a music that changed music radically up to this day. Bebop basically said: “the rules of yesterday are gone - do what you want”. Louis Armstrong said they (Bird etc) sounded like they were playing chinese music, which was sort of right. It was foreign. It wasn’t a language spoken yet. No one knew what they were saying, but people liked it because it had enough grammar from the old language to keep people engaged.

That’s true to today. If you are a fan of any 60s to now jazz, that’s where it’s coming from either directly or conceptually. Conceptually meaning bebop said you are now free to do anything and take your influence from anywhere. Miles Davis was in Bird’s band; Coltrane was in Dizzy’s. Tony Williams said Max was one of his 3 main influences due to his technique and melodic playing. If you hear any band playing really fast in any style, that’s where it’s coming from. If you hear a band playing harmony or melody that is nuts, that’s where it’s coming from. If you hear a band doing nothing at all..see Cage’s 4:33/minimalism, and they seem nuts, that’s where it’s coming from. It was a conceptual shift in everthing. I’d include anything interesting that happened in pop music too in the 60s and progressive rock later. Bands deciding to make concept records or be influenced by India or Stravinsky or avant garde art etc. All that was happening at least 10 years earlier in jazz. People know about Charlie Watts’ jazz influence. Led Zep too as was mentioned, and they also used to do a cover of Bags’ Groove, which was a Milt Jackson (jazz vibist) tune. Ironically the Beatles were more experimental yet I don’t think they admitted to a jazz influence much. But that idea; taking influence from anywhere, not worrying about what was marketable and rule breaking etc. That was bebop. All the arts were doing this post WW2. It was a momentous time to be creating. And then Bird would turn around and play a ballad like Smoke Gets in your Eyes and make you cry. It was not all cake and fireworks. The players still needed to reach themselves and the music still needed to reach people.

I hesitate to say that Max was the guy in the midst of all this, since there were many bebop drummers. I would personally only put Roy Haynes or Blakey in the same category. But Max’s role then playing with Charlie Parker, all his session work, his solo bandleader work and as an artist pushing forward and not resting on his laurels for the rest of his life, got him elevated to at least one of the main guys that get talked about. You don’t have to love him or that music, but you need to know your history and give him props as an o.g. in the creative drummer and creative music realm.
Thanks for contributing. A lot of good stuff there. But dont get me started on that John Cage piece!
 

poco rit.

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In college I had a professor named Warren Smith. He taught 5, or 6 classes of mine. Besides theory 1, the classes had 7-14 people in it. He showed the class how to hold the sticks, and a few basic rudiments. He played, and i thought "man this guy stinks".
At the time i was studying with a well known, touring/studio drummer on his breaks. He had crazy chops, perfect time, and was unbelievable, and that's what I thought a great drummer was. He was, but I had blinders on.
Warren would get behind the kit pretty often, especially in the small jazz classes. He'd play jazz, and i didn't get it at all. I didn't know who he was, and didn't care for his style, or what he was playing.
Oh man, I really blew a great chance.
He played with all the Jazz greats, and would speak of Roach, and some others in the highest regard.
He was possible the coolest, and turned out to be the best teacher I ever had.
Good Warren Smith.
He was Janis Joplin's music director for a period (to start), and never even mentioned it.
I was young, healthy, picked things up (that i wanted to) quick, and only got a fraction of what he had to offer.
Now that I'm super eager to improve, and work as hard as I can, my body doesn't listen to my mind.
Anyway, now when I listen to thoes cats, what they're playing blows my mind.
So, I guess you can say I thought like you.
I don't have a hot tub time machine, so I have to live with that regret.
Thanks for sharing with me your similar feelings about jazz in the beginning. Also, i see you hinted a lil something about your health. None of my business. But i just wanna say i hope your doin well at this time.
 

bob meyer

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Not liking or understanding the importance of Max Roach is like not liking or understanding the importance of Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin to American history or the development of democracy!
He is one of the pioneers of modern jazz drumming along with Kenny Clarke, Sid Cattlett etc
Max and Kenny developed the sound, feel and rhythm of the RIDE CYMBAL still basically used today with modifications by some..., Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams to name a few.
If you want to understand drumming, I advise taking a course in American music.
 

Robert Albiston

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Well, do you like Jazz in general? He came up with a lot of vocabulary that is still used today in all kinds of styles and meters. And he did that at blazingly fast tempos with great precision and sound. Also he played long, musical solos while other drummers of the time often only played longer fills or flashy things. He did a lot of pioneering things and at an extremely high level. People back then must have been mesmerized by his playing and he's still studied by drummers today.
Have a look at his discography and pick and artist/album that you like. If you don't enjoy it, so be it. You can still give him another chance in a year. :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Roach
One of his best known albums is this:
[/QUO
 

Robert Albiston

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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?
Here he is with the great Abdullah Ibrahim. His inventions are super fine, but he opens up toward the middle, so you might try pasting this:
 


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