The genelogy of hard bop begins with
drummer Max Roach (1924), who had cut is teeth with Charlie Parker (1945-49),
and who in 1954 formed a quintet with trumpeter Clifford Brown (1930)
plus tenor saxophone, piano and bass.
Clifford Brown and Max Roach (august 1954), containing Brown's Daahoud
and Joy Spring,
In 1956 Sonny Rollins became their tenor saxophonist but Brown died shortly
afterwards. The new line-up continued to evolve Roach's vision of hard bop
via Plus Four (september 1956), that
contains a nine-minute version of George Russell's Ezz-Thetic,
Jazz in 3/4 time (march 1957), devoted to 3/4 waltz rhythms (Blues Waltz) and occasional forays into modal improvisation.
Rollins departed before Deeds Not Words (september 1958), that features
Booker Little on trumpet and Ray Draper on tuba.
Roach cut his masterpiece
Freedom Now Suite (september 1960), a seven-movement suite that featured vocals
(written by lyricist Oscar Brown and sang by Abbey Lincoln),
with a nonet that marked a clear break with his past
(trumpeter Booker Little and trombonist Julian Priester.
two tenors including Coleman Hawkins, three external percussionists).
Percussion Bitter Sweet (august 1961) featured another "subversive"
line-up (Little, Priester, Eric Dolphy on alto, bass clarinet, and flute,
Clifford Jordan on tenor, Mal Waldron on piano, Art Davis on bass, plus
a section of percussionists)
and was again entirely devoted to Roach originals.
He had something to say and clearly wanted to say it through his music
(Garvey's Ghost, Praise For A Martyr).
As the politicized season faded, Roach got even more absorbed by his drumming.
Drums Unlimited (october 1965) contained three solo-drum pieces:
The Drum Also Waltzes, Drums Unlimited and For Big Sid.
The live The Loadstar (july 1977), performed with Billy Harper on tenor sax, Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet and Reggie Workman on bass, contains two lengthy pieces: The Martyr and Six Bits Blues.
Max Roach Quartet Live In Tokyo (january 1977) contained a side-long
Birth And Rebirth (september 1978) was a concept album inspired to primitive beliefs and made of seven duets with Anthony Braxton framed by Birth and Rebirth, followed by One in Two Two in One (august 1979) that contained just one long album-size improvisation.
Roach's percussion orchestra M'Boom debuted on M'Boom (july 1979).
His main vehicle remained his quartet (Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet and Odean Pope on tenor, flute and oboe), documented in Pope's Mwalimu, off
Pictures In A Frame (september 1979),
Bridgewater's 40-minute suite Scott Free (may 1984),
and Roach's 21-minute Survivors, off Survivors (october 1984).
The Long March (august 1979) documents a live performance by Max Roach and Archie Shepp .
Roach's last experiment was with the format of the
double quartet on Easy Winners (january 1985) and Bright Moments (october 1986).
To the Max was a testament to his experimental life, containing
a three-movement suite Ghost Dance (june 1991) for M'Boom and a
21-minute A Little Booker (june 1991) for double quartet.
Max Roach died in august 2007.
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