Thursday, August 16, 2007
Max Roach, Immortal
This is truly a great loss, not just for the jazz world, but for music and the arts in general. I try to avoid obituaries, because it gets hard to distinguish who deserves special mention for their lifetime. But Max Roach was such a giant of creativity and achievement that it's hard to let his passing go unnoticed. Just read through the guys he was playing with as a teenager -- Bird and Duke, among others -- and you get a sense of what kind of contribution he made to American music and the arts. The man's career reads like a Who's Who of 20th century music and art.
I was introduced to his music through an album I bought as a teenager of his Quintet with Clifford Brown, and to this day, I don't think I've ever heard anyone else equal the combination of technical virtuosity and musicality that I discovered on that record. Later I had the privilege to hear him perform "Survivors" live with The Alvin Ailey dance company at City Center. His passion was so expansive that it filled the hall.
A giant has passed.