WUSF All Night Jazz Focus Artist of the Week: Max Roach

Photo: NPR/Getty Images.

This week on All Night Jazz, we’ll focus on legendary drummer, Max Roach. Born January 10,1924, Roach was a percussion pioneer working alongside greats like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk in the burgeoning bebop music scene in the late 1940’s.

He got his first big break fresh out of high school when he was tapped to fill in for drummer Sonny Greer in Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. After aiding in the development the bebop sound, he formed a legendary alliance with trumpeter Clifford Brown.

Even though Brown was killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1956, their collaboration is still celebrated today and many of the songs they recorded together, like “Joy Spring” and “Delilah,” are now considered iconic standards.

Roach later became an activist and a prominent spokesperson for jazz while he continued to innovate via several bands including the percussion orchestra M’Boom, up until his death in 2007.

We’ll keep time with Max Roach all week long on All Night Jazz.