Remembering Max Roach

By Ronald Court

One of the greatest drummer-musicians of all time died last week in Manhattan. He was remembered for his contribution, not only to the world of music, but also for a militant expression during the Civil Rights Movement.

At a Miles Davis/Gil Evans concert at Carnegie Hall in 1961, Max, who felt Miles was “too centered” on civil-rights, staged a one-man protest by marching to the edge of the stage holding a “Freedom Now” placard.

Max & Miles. Their instruments and music reflected very different natures. Miles’ trumpet is a one-note-at-a-time, front of the crowd instrument. Yet Miles’ classic, “Kind of Blue” exposed a sure, slow patient side to Miles’ nature. Drums, on the other hand, are to an untrained ear, background, loud and fast. Yet Max’s break-through playing exhibits a mastery of complex riffs and timing, sometimes impatient yet always in control of the pulse.

Consider two people striving to reach the same destination. One is by nature, more patient, forgiving and aware that hard work…and time… is required to secure the help of others in order to assure a safer, more secure route to the destination. The other is rather impatient and unwilling to let go of lingering anger or resentment “issues.” For him, to criticise, complain and control is quicker and more satisfying than attempting to change hearts and minds.

Which approach is quicker, longer lasting, with fewer ill side-effects?
BTW at Carnegie Hall
Ask any shrink.
Just as we admire Max Roach for his God-given talent and skill, let us also honor Booker T. for his patient, forgiving nature. After all, 55 years earler, Booker T. paved the way for Miles and Max’s appearance at Carnegie Hall by himself being featured on that very stage in 1906.
(Note: that’s Sam Clemens [Mark Twain] seated behind BTW.)

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