Happy Birthday Max Roach

Max Roach was one of the pioneers of Bebop jazz along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke.  His ability to play ride cymbal patterns at such a high rate of speed made it sound like "bacon frying."

His style of playing drums along with that of Kenny Clarke changed the role of drumming in a jazz group.  Instead of the traditional role of only being a timekeeper, drummers were now accenting and coloring the music with "bombs," fills, and snare drum hits.

Photo by Albert Kok

My cousin Warren Smith along with Max Roach, were part of a drum group years ago called M'Boom and I remember my parents dragging my brother and I to some of the concerts in New York. I say dragging because I was so young and the music was way over my head at that age.
Years later I stayed with my cousin Warren to for several months while I was in high school and I answered the phone in his apartment thinking he was calling me, instead it was Max Roach trying to reach him. I told him he wasn't home at the moment and then preceded to have a long conversation about his experiences playing with Bird. Needless to say, I was "all ears." I got a chance to hang with Mr. Roach over at Warren's loft at another time, but I definitely cherish that conversation and being able to hear personal stories of that pivotal era of jazz music.

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