This Max Roach date is an unusual set. The outing featured the drummer's all-star sextet (which consisted of trumpeter Richard Williams, tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, trombonist Julian Priester, pianist Mal Waldron, and bassist Art Davis) joined by a vocal choir conducted by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and orchestrated by Roach (who contributed all six originals). Unlike most other collaborations, the choir was not overly gospel-oriented and was utilized as a sort of jazz ensemble. Each of the horn players has a feature or two and singer Abbey Lincoln stars on "Lonesome Lover."
Although Max Roach was very much a product of the be-bop revolution of the 1940s, he proved to be quite receptive to modal post-bop and avant-garde jazz in the 1960s. One of the finest post-bop dates Roach recorded during that decade was 1968's Members, Don't Git Weary, which finds the drummer leading a cohesive modal quintet that employs Gary Bartz on alto sax, Charles Tolliver on trumpet, Stanley Cowell on acoustic and electric piano, and Jymie Merritt on electric bass. Despite the use of electric instruments, this isn't an album that emphasizes rock or funk elements or predicts the fusion explosion that was just around the corner – Members, Don't Git Weary is very much a straight-ahead effort, and the harmonic richness of modal playing is illustrated by such gems as Cowell's "Equipoise," Bartz's "Libra," and Merritt's "Absolutions."
In 1979 Max Roach founded M'Boom, a group consisting of eight percussionists. Their debut recording (which has been reissued on this Columbia CD) is far from being a monotonous drum battle. In fact, through the utilization of a wide range of instruments that include chimes, timbales, marimba, vibes, xylophone, tympani, various bells and steel drums, there are quite a lot of melodies to be heard during these nine performances (which are all group originals other than Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy"). This is a particularly colorful set that is easily recommended not only to jazz and percussion fans but to followers of World music.
One of the architects of bebop in the 1940s, Max Roach continued to lead innovative and exemplary jazz groups into the 21st century. He cut his first discs with Coleman Hawkins in 1943, and soon afterwards worked with Dizzy Gillespie both on 52nd Street and on record.
The historic meeting of two truly influential and individual composers, arrangers, and instrumentalists on The Long March. The album appeared in 1979 on Swiss label Hat Hut. This date pairs Max Roach and Archie Shepp playing both solo and as a duo for one night in 1979 at the Willisau Jazz Festival. Roach's truly astonishing solo "J.C. Moses" is a tribute to Detroit jazz great J.C. Heard. The kinds of rimshots, trap stops and starts, and continuous rolling thunder take the breath away and make the listener wonder if this is really only one drummer. Next up is Shepp's solo tenor reading of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," where he coaxes all the ballad's idiosyncrasies and fluidly combines them with his new jazz flourishes, without once disrespecting the integrity of the original.
Max Roach's post-Clifford Brown ensembles became more experimental down the road, but this 1960 band, with the brothers Tommy and Stanley Turrentine, and Julian Priester, was short-lived, very satisfying, and one of the most memorable combos the drummer led. Continuing to concentrate on hard bop themes, the band is hardly quiet as the title would suggest. It perhaps could be said that this band was a sleeper in not being as recognized as the superior collective talent would indicate. Perhaps the obscure bassist Bob Boswell has something to do with it, or that the front line would find their niches in jazz well past their membership in this fine combo…
1955 album by the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet, described by The New York Times as "perhaps the definitive bop group until Mr. Brown's fatal automobile accident in 1956". The album was critically well-received and includes several notable tracks, including two that have since become jazz standards. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It is included in Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings at #34, where it is described by New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff as "one of the strongest studio albums up to that time". Originally released on the EmArcy label, it has been multiply re-issued, including in a 2000 edition by Verve Records that contains additional tracks.