Playing drums from childhood, Max Roach was fully taught and gained early professional experience in swing bands. With Kenny Clarke, he became a founder of bop drumming, experimenting after hours at various New York City haunts. Through the late 40s and early 50s Roach recorded frequently, sometimes as leader, playing with all the leading musicians of the era; Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, George Coleman, Hank Mobley among them. In the 50s, Roach formed a remarkable quintet that was tragically ended when two members of the band, Clifford Brown and Richie Powell, were killed in a road accident. After this group, Roach continued to front bands, often with exceptional players among whom were Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Bridgewater, Richard Williams, Clifford Jordan and Julian Priester. Roach was always aware of and party to developments in the Civil Rights movement and his Freedom Now Suite was a notable musical milestone (on which his then-wife, Abbey Lincoln, sang). In 1970, Roach formed M'Boom with which he played throughout the decade although sadly recording little. He continued to perform with leading jazz artists, comfortably adapting to changing times and sub-genres of jazz. At the end of the decade he recorded two exceptional duets, with Anthony Braxton, Birth And Rebirth (1978) and Cecil Taylor, Historic Concerts (1979). The 80s and 90s found Roach still paying heed of new developments and always firmly rooting the playing of his groups solidly in his percussive arsenal.
Followers: Ralph Peterson
Influenced By: Big Sid Catlett...