Today we remember the birthday of one of bebop’s pioneers, captured in a classic portrait by photographer William P. Gottlieb. Drummer Max Roach was born on January 10, 1924 in North Carolina. He was not only a pioneer of the new form but was active in the Civil Rights movement with his We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, which featured a lineup of jazz greats that included tenor sax legend Coleman Hawkins, vocalist Abbey Lincoln, trumpet player Booker Little, and Sun Ra sideman Julian Priester on trombone.
Roach spoke at the Library in 1995 as part of the jazz film series curated by Larry Appelbaum, who is now a Senior Reference Specialist in the Music Division. Visit the William P. Gottlieb Collection for more photos of Max Roach, including a club photo with the legendary Charlie Parker.
When Roach died on August 16, 2007, he was one of our last links to the bebop era. Give the drummer some on his birthday by listening to his classic recordings with Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, his 1950s sessions with trumpet great Clifford Brown, the aforementioned Freedom Now, or his late seventies duo recordings with titans of avant-garde Anthony Braxton and Cecil Taylor.