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Max Roach, RIP

Drummer, bandleader, label owner, activist: Max Roach got around. The jazz giant died in his sleep last night at the age of 83, according to a press release from Blue Note, but there won't be any forgetting the man. Helping redefine the role of the jazz drummer in the bebop and post-bop eras, Roach played on historic albums like 1953's Jazz At Massey Hall (with the dream lineup of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and Charles Mingus) and Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool. Two of his most enduring and definitive associations, though, were with Mingus–with whom Roach founded Debut Records and played on heart-stopping masterpieces like Money Jungle alongside Duke Ellington–and vocalist Abbey Lincoln, Roach's wife, recording partner, and fellow civil-rights advocate throughout the '60s. Roach's touch was organic and dynamic, but instead of being some Harlem Globetrotter of the skins, he could breathe, pulse, and swing like no other. No dazzling, extended drum-battle below–just understated, synergistic beauty.

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