Max Roach, jazz legend, bop pioneer and possibly the greatest drum soloist of all time died today.
There are so few great drum soloists, and by drum soloists, I don’t mean metal drummers playing really fast rudiments round the kit and then twirling their sticks. I mean kit drummers who can play solo compositions. Terry Bozzio does it, and there’s a great drummer in Denmark whose name escapes me but I’ve got an album by who does it too, and a handful of others, but Max was the daddy, for sure.
There are so few musicians of his generation left – Sonny Rollins is still going… i can’t think of many other jazz legends that were active in the early 50s that are out there. Every year we lose a few more. I never got to see Max Roach play. I saw Rollins play a few years ago, and though his band were pretty uninspiring, it was still a joy to hear THAT sound, that phrasing live. I got to play with Elvin Jones before he died, at a masterclass – I was rubbish, that much is a given, but it was still a huge honour and i’ve blogged before about what an amazing lesson it was for me in the generousity of spirit of truly great musicians…
Anyway, two bits of Max Roachness – first, here’s Questlove from The Roots talking about Max, and then here’s a clip from YouTube of Max playing a hi-hat solo.by