Lessons from Max Roach


My first encounter with Max Roach was in 2011 when I began studying with Ryan Hurn - a great touring drummer based in the midwest. Previously I had played a fair amount of jazz for a kid growing up in a town (Branson, Missouri) dominated by early groove based popular music. But the drummers I had encountered through this music undoubtedly checked out jazz drummers, such as Mitch Mitchell of the Jimmy Hendrix Experience who was an Elvin Jones fanatic and Jerry Allison the drummer for Buddy Holly which one could hear swing influences in his playing on such hits like "That'll be the Day" which he actually co-wrote.

Long story short, I hadn't really studied Max a whole lot until Ryan hipped me to him by saying "Max was the first guy who when I heard him solo, it made total sense". And that's, to me, the magic of Max Roach. His solos are some of the most compositionally based improvisations that have been played. He knew what needed to played when, and he executed it with compositional authority.

It had been a couple years since I have gone back and revisited this solo, but it's one of my favorites. Enjoy! And thank you Ryan for opening my eyes to him - still as relevant today as he was then.


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