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Max Roach: A Hurricane on the Drum Set
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Max Roach: A Hurricane on the Drum Set


Jazz drummer Max Roach died this week at the age of 83. He was one of the most accomplished and influential drummers of the 20th century, a master of polyrhythms and unpredictable beats. He played with other masters including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and helped father the style of jazz called bebop. His innovative way of playing defied expectations and elevated the drums from background instrument to lead.

(Soundbite of drums)

SIMON: To watch him was like watching a small hurricane swirl over the drum set. Jazz trumpet player Terence Blanchard remembered Max Roach this week on NPR's TALK OF THE NATION.

Mr. TERENCE BLANCHARD (Jazz Trumpet Player): First of all, he's probably one of the most melodic drummers that had come along in the bebop period, you know, because when you listen to his drum solos, his drum solos contained a lot of melodic content. But also, he was a person who is socially conscious. And he knew how to bring that social awareness into his realm of his art. And he never forgot that. I mean, he always seemed to make sure that as an artist, his music reflected his cultural surroundings as well. I mean, you can't say it enough. He's truly one of the great pioneers in this business.

One of the things that I've always loved about Max is that he never stopped growing even up to the latter part of his years. He had The Double Quartet. He had different types of groups. He was always trying to expand his musical experiences, and that's the sign of a true artist.

(Soundbite of drums)

SIMON: Terence Blanchard recalling jazz great, Max Roach, who died this week at the age of 83 after a long illness.

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