Arguably one of the most important drummer ever, Maxwell Lemuel Roach began his career pioneering bebop drums play (at the same time Kenny Clarke did).
This step ahead led him to record a number of historical sessions with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell and other giants of the time during the 50's.
Then involved with Charles Mingus and Clifford Brown, his already important career reached new heights in the early 60's with landmark records, either sideman or leader, such as Money Jungle and We Insist! Freedom Now.
Married with Abbey Lincoln with whom he recorded a number of times, Roach is also known to be one of the few bop drummers making intrusions into Free Jazz: the well-named Historic Concert is one of the most remarkable example, featuring Roach in a two hour killing duet with Cecil Taylor.
Newcomers are encouraged to start with the all-star Money Jungle emphasizing Roach subtle bop playing - this release also is one of the finest jazz record ever.
People looking for a solid reference covering the hard-bop years are encouraged to (try to) dig the excellent (and rare) Mosaic seven discs boxset The Complete Mercury Max Roach Plus Four Sessions.
Maxwell Lemuel "Max" Roach (January 10, 1924 – August 16, 2007) was an American jazz percussionist, drummer, and composer.
A pioneer of bebop, Roach went on to work in many other styles of music, and is generally considered alongside the most important drummers in history. He worked with many famous jazz musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little. He was inducted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1992.
Roach also led his own groups, and made numerous musical statements relating to the Civil Rights Movement.