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Max Roach (1.10.24 – 8.16.07)

While both pleased and proud to have the opportunity to comment on Mr. Roach, one feels the compulsion to transcend, as did he. After witnessing the just desserts delivered at his tasty memorial by greats such as Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Bill Cosby and then some, even a lowly skinsman/scribe such as I must at least attempt some feat beyond the pedestrian. With so many avenues of tribute already taken, alliteration will be my tool of choice.

Aspiration toward a drumming career caused me to hear the name of Max early and often. From my first lessons in grade school, I would make my journey home, snare drum in a shopping bag. More often than not, passersby would say his name upon noticing my instrument. If nothing else, I could do far worse for a role model than Max. I have no way of knowing if these folks were even jazz fans, but I think he always represented integrity and quality to the black community. And, by today’s standards, being a sharp brother with a cool stage name, his own label, and the Love of Ivy probably earned him some points around the way, too. The Jay-Z of his day, perhaps.

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