I have this video I show to my students every year – the original VHS tape I have is called Jazz in America, Dizzy Gillespie’s All Star Band at the Lincoln Center. It was filmed in 1982 and recently, they made it into a DVD called “Dizzy’s Dream Band”. There isn’t one part of that video that I ever get sick of and whenever I show it to kids, they’re just as drawn in as I am. I’ve actually met two trumpet players that were on that video, Marvin Stamm and Jon Faddis. When I met Jon Faddis a few years ago and had him autograph the cover of the DVD, he looked at all the names listed, shook his head and said that a lot of those cats had since passed away.
And now, we have lost another. Max Roach passed away this week at the age of 83. I hadn’t ever heard his name before this video but once I associated the name with the sound of his drumming, I could never separate the two. He was absolutely amazing at making the drumset sing. He knew exactly what part of each drum and cymbal sounded like and used it impeccably to play back the tune during a solo. His drum solos didn’t sound like racket. You could always find the beat and even the tune or horn played lick in them. Every drumset player I have, I want them to sound like Max Roach. There are a few recordings of his playing in sidebars to the NPR article about his passing. Take a listen. You won’t be disappointed.