Video: Happy Birthday Max Roach 'Live at Blues Alley'

10 January 2013 — Jazz on the Tube

Maxwell Lemuel Roach was born on January 10, 1924 in the Township of Newland, North Carolina and moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn when he was four years old. Max began playing bugle at a young age and was playing drums with gospel groups by the time he was ten years old. When Max was sixteen years old he played his first big jazz gig with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, subbing for Sonny Greer. In 1942 Roach began frequenting jams sessions on 52nd street and 78th and Broadway in Manhattan where bebop was born. Roach along with fellow drummer Kenny Clarke completely changed the way the drum set was approached in music as well as introducing the idea of the drum set as a musical instrument and not just a means to keep time. During this period Roach played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell and Miles Davis.

This 1981 live show at Washington D.C.’s famous Blues Alley features drummer extraordinaire Max Roach and his Band as captured by filmmaker Gary Keys.

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