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1924 * MAX ROACH * 2007

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    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070817/news_1n17roach.html 1924 * MAX ROACH * 2007 Drummer expanded bounds of jazz By Peter Keepnews NEW YORK TIMES
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17, 2007
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      http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070817/news_1n17roach.html

      1924 * MAX ROACH * 2007
      Drummer expanded bounds of jazz

      By Peter Keepnews
      NEW YORK TIMES NEWS

      August 17, 2007

      NEW YORK â€" Max Roach, 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, died Wednesday
      at his home in New York. He was 83.

      His death was announced yesterday by a spokesman for Blue Note
      records, on which he frequently appeared. No cause was given. Roach
      had been ill for several years.

      As a young man, Roach, a percussion virtuoso capable of playing at the
      most brutal tempos with subtlety as well as power, was among a small
      circle of adventurous musicians who brought about wholesale changes in
      jazz.

      During the years, he challenged his audiences and himself by working
      not just with standard jazz instrumentation, and not just in
      traditional jazz venues, but in a wide variety of contexts, some of
      them well beyond the confines of jazz as it is generally understood.

      He led a “double quartet” consisting of his working group of trumpet,
      saxophone, bass and drums plus a string quartet. He led an ensemble
      consisting entirely of percussionists. He dueted with uncompromising
      avant-gardists such as the pianist Cecil Taylor and the saxophonist
      Anthony Braxton. He performed unaccompanied. He wrote music for plays
      by Sam Shepard and dance pieces by Alvin Ailey. He collaborated with
      video artists, gospel choirs and hip-hop performers.

      Roach made several acclaimed appearances in San Diego. One of the most
      memorable came in 1992 when he gave a solo percussion recital at
      Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, then returned to the stage for a
      delightful impromptu drum and spoken-word duet with author Toni Morrison.

      In 1987, the San Diego Repertory Theatre brought Roach to town to
      direct and score a jazz-fueled production of “A Midsummer Night's
      Dream.” Two years later, he performed in San Diego with his Max Roach
      Double Quartet, which teamed his quartet with the Uptown String
      Quartet, an all-female jazz-chamber group that included his
      viola-playing daughter, Maxine.

      Roach explained his philosophy in 1990: “You can't write the same book
      twice. Though I've been in historic musical situations, I can't go
      back and do that again. And though I run into artistic crises, they
      keep my life interesting.”

      The North Carolina native was born on Jan. 10, 1924, and moved to
      Brooklyn with his family four years later. A player piano left by the
      previous tenants gave Roach his musical introduction.

      From the beginning of his career, Roach found himself in historic
      situations. He was in his teens when he played drums with alto
      saxophonist Charlie Parker at a Harlem club in 1942. Within a few
      years, Roach was recognized as a pioneer in the development of the new
      form of jazz that came to be known as bebop.

      He wasn't the first drummer to play bebop â€" Kenny Clarke, 10 years his
      senior, is generally credited with that distinction â€" but he quickly
      established himself as the most imaginative percussionist in modern
      jazz and the most influential.

      Always among the most politically active of jazz musicians, Roach had
      helped Charles Mingus establish one of the first musician-run record
      companies, Debut, in 1952. Eight years later, the two organized a
      festival in Newport, R.I., to protest the Newport Jazz Festival's
      treatment of performers.

      That year, Roach collaborated with lyricist Oscar Brown Jr. on “We
      Insist! Freedom Now Suite,” which played variations on the theme of
      black people's struggle for equality.

      Union-Tribune pop music critic George Varga contributed to this report.

      © Copyright 2007 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. • A Copley Newspaper Site
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