(Blogged by Howie Klein) Last night I asked legendary drummer Jim Keltner, my neighbor, for his reaction to the news of Max Roach's passing. Jim hadn't heard yet and was too shocked to answer immediately. Later he e-mailed me a calm assessment: "Not only was Max with Bird and Diz at the birth of BeBop, he soon became the link between the great swing drummers and the exciting precision based bombast of early BeBop. Max was one of the most important and influential Jazz drummers of all time." The NY Times was as impressed with Roach as Keltner was, saying he "rewrote the rules of drumming in the 1940’s and spent the rest of his career breaking musical barriers and defying listeners’ expectations." As a teenager he worked with Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, went on to work with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, and Anthony Braxton to name a few.
Here's a piece by the Max Roach Quartet (with Billy Harper, Cecil Bridgewater, and Reggie Workman) in the mid-70's: