|MAX ROACH & FRIENDS, WINGING IT
New York Post; New York; Jun 30, 2000;
Copyright New York Post Corporation Jun 30, 2000
NO percussionist in jazz is more widely respected than Max Roach, who is leading his quartet at The Blue Note through Sunday.
Along with the late Kenny Clarke, he was one of the key architects of modern jazz drumming, and has worked with virtually every jazz artist of significance.
Now 76, he paces himself in performance. If you're looking to see the fastest or loudest drummers, look elsewhere.
He works at a far more deliberate stride than in earlier years, but he remains a consistently interesting player. Responsive, imaginative, surprising, he is able to give a single, perfectly placed cymbal splash maximum dramatic value.
"We don't rehearse; everything you hear is improvised," he tells us.
Yet he and his colleagues - trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, saxist Odean Pope and bassist Tyrone Brown - achieve a wonderfully nuanced cohesiveness.
The horns in his group sometimes seem to crunch together when they harmonize, as on their appealingly astringent, fresh treatment of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood."
But the four musicians' well-balanced mix of freedom and togetherness, with every member given ample space for wholly unaccompanied solos, works.