Highlights of Jazz artist Max Roach

Max Roach is a well-known drummer, composer, and bandleader who was a pioneer of bebop.


In 1924, Max Roach was born. He grew up listening to gospel music primarily. The fact that his mother was a gospel singer and that he joined a gospel group at the age of ten also contributes to this. His career as a drummer had just begun. Later, he was able to find work and play with many renowned bebop musicians, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others. At the legendary Massey Hall concert in 1953, he was given the opportunity to record alongside Parker, Gillespie, Powell, and bassist Charles Mingus.

Max Roach was delighted to record and perform with numerous jazz musicians during the course of his career. Miles Davis’ debut solo album, Miles Davis’ All Stars, released in 1947, was a significant one. The trio only recorded two Powell-penned songs with the aid of his friend Bud Powell. “Light-hearted” Celia and “Something completely” were their names.

The song “Tempus Fugit” combines Be-Bop and booming Romanticism. Max Roach plays as effortlessly as ever while slamming along at 150 bpm, sliding through the changes and highlighting Powell’s piano brilliance.

These two-and-a-half minutes of music, in many ways, prefigured the powerful jazz fusion that would catch on more than two decades later.

Roach and Brown were the forerunners of the 1950s’ Hard Bop sound, working with artists like Art Blakey and Horace Silver.

Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings ranks Clifford Brown & Max Roach’s debut album, simply named Clifford Brown & Max Roach, at number 34.

Roach assembled a group in 1958 that he called the Boston Percussion Ensemble. At the Music Inn, the school’s performance space, they produced a live recording. It is a concept album with two stand-alone songs that come before an eight-part suite. The works are very complex for the period.

“Jazz has always been identified by the great solo improvisers,” Roach said “If you’re a percussionist, it’s creating design using the elements of your instrument and coordinating all four limbs. It isn’t just at-random playing.” that three of the six songs on Roach’s 1966 album Drums Unlimited were solo drums without any accompaniment. Many drummers regard this record as Roach’s masterpiece.

Max Roach founded the M’Boom Percussion Ensemble in the year 1970. The group never included any other musicians in any of its almost three decades worth of iterations.

They released four albums between 1973 and 1992 (plus an alternative debut album with two more tracks), with the live recording of Roach’s final appearance with the group coming at the end of that span.

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