Max Roach

Best of 2021, Max Roach, Jazz Funk, George Duke and Melba Liston

Tonight on the Night Train, we mark the birthday of legendary jazz drummer Max Roach. We’ll hear Max with singers Dinah Washington and Abbey Lincoln in hour one, and a special, with guests Dizzy Gillespie, Art Taylor and Paul Motian, in hour two of the show. In conjunction with the January look back at the past year in jazz, we remember Steven J. Lawrence. The prolific Sesame Street composer whose work gave the title track to a 2021 show favorite from Joe Fielder, tuba master Howard Johnson, and soul-jazz organ great Dr. Lonnie Smith.
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Happy Birthday, Max Roach

Maxwell Lemuel Roach was an American jazz drummer and composer, one of the most influential and widely recorded modern percussionists. A founder of modern jazz who rewrote the rules of drumming in the 1940s and spent the rest of his career breaking musical barriers and defying listeners’ expectations. He...
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Best Max Roach Pieces: Jazz Essentials From A Legendary Percussionist

A strong case can be made for Max Roach as the most complete drummer in jazz history. Roach was in the vanguard of both the bebop movement that transformed jazz in the late 1940s and its hard-bop offshoot that galvanized the music in the mid-50s. His early 60s recordings made him a daring and distinctive artistic catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. He was decades ahead of his time in co-founding his own record label, essentially invented the modern jazz percussion ensemble, M’boom, wrote and played music for Sam Shepherd’s plays, Alvin Ailey’s dances, gospel choirs, and hip-hop artists. He was the first jazz artist to receive the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship in 1988. And he capped off his long and remarkable career with innovative fusions of jazz and Euro-classical music via double quartet and orchestra.

Remembering Clifford Brown and Max Roach

As I was pulling together the playlist for tonight's edition of Mainstream and Modern(Sunday nights 8p-11p), I ended up going down one of those rabbit holes, in this case the brief collaboration between two Jazz greats, one you probably know and one maybe not as well—Max Roach and Clifford Jones. Max Roach emerged in the 1940s as one of the innovative drummers in the middle of Bebop. He and Kenny Clark dramatically changed drumming in Jazz from keeping the beat to an actual instrumental accompaniment, by playing the 4/4 beat on their ride cymbals instead of the bass drum, which allowed the drummer and the soloists to more freely improvise.

Song of the Day: Max Roach and M’Boom, “Epistrophy”

In 1970, drum legend Max Roach founded M’Boom, an ensemble made up entirely of a wide range of percussive instruments, including drums, bells, gongs, vibes, marimba, timpani and more. Together, they specialized in performing new and unique arrangements of classic compositions. Their music was often surprisingly refined and perfectly showcased in what is perhaps best showcased on their explosive, eponymous 1980 Columbia record. One of the highlights of its colorful set is a particularly exciting take on the Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke classic, “Epistrophy,” which you can hear via the player below.

'Summer Of Soul': Abbey Lincoln And Max Roach

Lincoln started out as a nightclub singer, but began performing in a style influenced by the civil rights movement after she met drummer/bebop pioneer Max Roach. Originally broadcast in 1986 and 1987. Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized...

Abbey Lincoln / Max Roach

We're continuing our "Summer of Soul" series with archival interviews with singer Abbey Lincoln and drummer Max Roach. Both were featured in the Questlove documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Abbey Lincoln started out as a seductive nightclub singer in the 1950s, but after meeting Max Roach, she started performing in a style influenced by modern jazz and the civil rights movement. She evolved into an introspective singer who wrote achingly beautiful songs about love and life. Max Roach was one of the inventors of modern jazz drumming. He helped formulate the language of bebop. In the early 1960s, he recorded some of the first jazz music inspired by the Civil Rights Movement.