Max Roach, a master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations provided the dislocated beats that defined bebop jazz, has died after a long illness. He was 83.
What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and his ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time.
Roach's innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist.
"One of the grand masters of our music," Gillespie once observed (via ABC)
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