Thursday, August 16, 2007

Drummer Max Roach Dead at 83

Max Roach was one of the masters of jazz drumming. He died yesterday at age 83. He is most famous for his bebop style developed while playing with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Roach also played with Miles Davis and Coleman Hawkins. He was known for his ability to simultaneously play several rhythms, his innovative and creative musical ideas, and his use of cymbals for melodic lines during improvisation.

I was fortunate to meet Mr. Roach in 1979 at Jazz Blues Alley in Washington, DC. I was at the club to hear the great clarinetist Buddy DeFranco. I met Buddy at the Friday night concert and quickly became friends with him at break when we talked about a mutual friend, Lexington jazz clarinetist Paul Thatcher. When I showed up the next night to hear Buddy play again, at break he came over to my table and invited me to come with him to meet "a very special person that was in the audience". It was a thrill for me when Buddy introduced me to the legendary Max Roach saying "here is my friend David Hall from Kentucky".

Now that Mr. Roach has passed, all jazz drummers will move up a rung on the talent ladder.


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