Songhai Concepts

Media Literacy/Digital Archiving Instructor

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Remember Max

Considered by many to be one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, drummer, writer, and activist Max Roach died on August 16, 2007 of complications from dementia and Alzheimer's. He was 83.

Roach’s discography and artistic accomplishments read like a who’s who of black American music. He played with the greatest musicians of his day including Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Coleridge Taylor Perkinson, Abbey Lincoln, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Clark and Philadelphia’s Odean Pope.

Roach was a frequent performer in Philadelphia and in his latter years made regular appearances at Dino’s Lounge, The African American Historical and Cultural Museum and at Morgan’s Night Club. The last time I saw Max Roach was at a book signing for poet Sonia Sanchez at the Old Zanzibar Blue on 11th Street in Philadelphia. I’ll never forget his powerful handshake and grip. Even in his 70’s, Roach was an impressively robust man, from the waist up. I asked him that day about his work with one of my favorite pianists – Sonny Clark, who died tragically in 1963 at the young age of 31, to which he replied, “Sonny was just a baby.”

Max Roach recordings of note include Money Jungle with Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, Sonny Clark Trio with George Duvivier, Brilliant Corners with Thelonious Monk, Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet Live at Basin Street, The Max Roach Trio featuring the Legendary Hasaan, Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln: Freedom Jazz Suite and Jazz at Massey Hall, considered by many to be the greatest jazz concert ever!

H. Songhai


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