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by Rupert Kettle
In listening to this album, one almost forgets he is hearing just drum set, so varied and well-paced is the program, so completely musical the selections. That Max is a musician who happens to play drums rather than the other way around, is constantly evident.In studying the works of Max Roach, one should pay particular attention to two important Roach compositional devices: 1) The manipulation of what might be called activity rhythms or the balance set up between the expenditure of greater or lesser amounts of energy over longer or shorter periods of time. 2) The use of brief melodic and/or rhythmic fragments to create a feeling of unity within an improvised solo. The recurring motif idea appears in “Big Sid,” the melodic figure being a percussive realization of Sidney Catlett’s “Mop-Mop.” This is Big Sid as remembered by Max, and the strong bass drum is very much in keeping with this thought.Max Roach Solos is a recording that must be heard, studied and digested by anyone who considers himself in any way concerned with percussion. Max has brought to full fruition an idea of jazz drumming that has been developing in his work for some twenty-five years; that of the truly classical percussionist. Classical in the true aesthetic sense; that is embodying elegance, simplicity, economy of means and purity of style. It’s all here, in this one magnificent recording.