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Explorations… to the Mth Degree

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Album Review

Featuring a comfortable duo between one of the kings of bebop, Max Roach, and master genre-bender Mal Waldron, this two-CD set contains a complete concert in honor of the pianist's 70th birthday. (Actually, there is also a bonus track of a cut recorded before the concert.) The 30 pieces are mostly fully improvised and flow into one another flawlessly. Waldron is a perfect partner; his often percussive technique is sandwiched by his lyrical flow, while Roach is in splendid form with his patented style. Together, they produce magical, magnificent results in a classic pairing of two of the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th Century. Most of the pieces were composed by Roach or Waldron, and almost every moment is filled with wonders. The quality of the recording is surprisingly good considering this was a live set.


Born: January 10, 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 of their drum...
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