Saturday, July 08, 2006

Max Roach - Nommo

Recorded - 1966

Album - Drums Unlimited

And Max just kept on going... Not content with having spearheaded the early development of bop with the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, elder statesman of the skins Max Roach put out an album in 1966 that was as fresh as anything he'd done up to that point. I've blogged about the album before, but here I want to concentrate on what is, for me, the standout piece. Tellingly, it's written by bass player Jymie Merritt (of Jazz Messengers fame) but works out the whole group rather than simply being a showpiece from the bass fiddle. In common with much of the jazz I enjoy, this one is a slow burner. A solitary bass intro gives way to a hypnotic 3 note figure that provides a backdrop for increasingly inventive solos on the part of all of the players. Of course, Max gets a decent solo slot as you'd expect, and is predictably excellent.

This is what I love about this period of jazz - here's an elder statesman of bop leading on a piece that starts conventional and ends up flirting with atonality; it's a bit like the (current) Rolling Stones covering Karlheinz Stockhausen, to put it in more conventional terms.

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