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Max Roach

Maxwell Lemuel “Max” Roach (January 10, 1924 – August 16, 2007) was an American jazz percussionist, drummer, and composer.

A pioneer of bebop, Roach went on to work in many other styles of music, and is generally considered alongside the most important drummers in history. He worked with many famous jazz musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little.

Roach also led his own groups, and made numerous musical statements relating to the African American civil rights movement.

He led a “double quartet” consisting of his working group of trumpet, saxophone, bass and drums plus a string quartet. He led an ensemble consisting entirely of percussionists. He dueted with uncompromising avant-gardists like the pianist Cecil Taylor and the saxophonist Anthony Braxton. He performed unaccompanied. He wrote music for plays by Sam Shepard and dance pieces by Alvin Ailey. He collaborated with video artists, gospel choirs and hip-hop performers.

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Purdie-630-80Purdie is known as a groove drummer with immaculate timing and makes use of precision half note, backbeats, and grooves. Purdie’s signature sixteenth note hi-hat lick pish-ship, pish-ship, pish-ship is distinct and hard to copy and he is known for his versatility. He often employs a straight eight groove sometimes fusing several influences such as swing, blues and funk. He created now well-known drum patterns such as the Purdie shuffle, Half-Time Purdie Shuffle, also the Bernard Purdie half-time feel shuffle that is a blues shuffle variation with the addition of syncopated ghost notes on the snare drum. Variations on this shuffle can be heard on songs such as Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain”, Death Cab For Cutie’s “Grapevine Fires”, and Toto’s “Rosanna” (Rosanna shuffle). Purdie’s shuffle can be heard on Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters” and “Home At Last”.

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