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The Kid Should See This

Max Roach on the hi-hat

On the hi-hat in this video: American jazz drummer and innovative composer Max Roach (1924-2007). The New York Times called him “a percussion virtuoso capable of playing at the most brutal tempos with subtlety as well as power.” He demonstrates that here.

Based on the video title, the workout appears to be dedicated to fellow jazz drummer Papa Jo Jones (1911-1985). So. Good. A quick Max Roach introduction from Drummerworld:

Max Roach instigated a revolution in jazz drumming that persisted for decades; instead of the swing approach of spelling out the pulse with the bass drum, Roach shifted the emphasis to the ride cymbal. The result was a lighter, far more flexible texture, giving drummers more freedom to explore the possibilities of their drum kits and drop random “bombs” on the snare drum, while allowing bop virtuosos on the front lines to play at faster speeds.

max roach - drummerworld gif

To this base, Roach added sterling qualities of his own — a ferocious drive, the ability to play a solo with a definite storyline, mixing up pitches and timbres, the deft use of silence, the dexterity to use the brushes as brilliantly as the sticks. He would use cymbals as gongs and play mesmerizing solos on the tom-toms, creating atmosphere as well as keeping the groove pushing forward.

Via Drummerworld, here’s another clip of Roach playing a drum solo: The Third Eye. The performance is a masterclass in rhythmic experimentation.


Next: See the unseen of a cymbal at 1,000 frames per second.

Updated video.

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