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Complete Studio Recordings

Max Roach

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Album Review

The odd billing for this two-fer reissue, to the Clifford Brown/Sonny Rollins/Max Roach Quintet (a name that never graced a marquee), may help explain the album title, Complete Studio Recordings. Rollins was the last occupant of the saxophone chair in the Clifford Brown - Max Roach Quintet, joining in late 1955 and remaining until Brown and pianist Richie Powell were killed in a car accident in June 1956. During that time, the quintet recorded an album, Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (which, despite its name, was a studio recording), for EmArcy Records, and Rollins led the same personnel in a session for Prestige Records released as Sonny Rollins Plus Four. Those two albums are combined on this disc, presenting all the master takes recorded by the group and, thus, its "complete studio recordings." Whatever the group is called, it plays well. Brown's reputation, enhanced by his early death, is justified by his imaginative soloing; Rollins, while still young, is already an accomplished talent; and Roach is his usual self, playing up a storm. The Prestige material, occupying the last five tracks, does lean a bit more in Rollins' direction, as he contributes two original compositions, and Brown actually lays out on the final number, Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings," leaving the field entirely to Rollins. How long this band might have continued if tragedy hadn't struck is impossible to say. But what it left behind here makes that an inescapable speculation for jazz fans.

Biography

Born: 10 January 1924 in New Land, NC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

In a profession star-crossed by early deaths — especially the bebop division — Max Roach was long a shining survivor, one of the last giants from the birth of bebop. He and Kenny Clarke 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...
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