Monday, July 27, 2020

Transcription: more Max Roach comping

Posting lots of 50s stuff these days. Here is Max Roach playing on Infinity Promenade, from the Miles Davis Lighthouse All-Stars record, At Last! In 1953 Miles was living with his father in East St. Louis, trying to get a handle on his heroin addiction, and Max Roach and Charles Mingus picked him up and took him to Los Angeles for a few months. Max was working in LA at the Lighthouse, and Miles sat in, and the record got made. There are some good stories about this period in Miles's autobiography, about fighting with Mingus and whatnot.

I've transcribed Max's playing during the tenor solo, starting at 1:06 in the track. Infinity Promenade is a cool West Coast-y tune by Shorty Rogers. I don't know what tune it's based on, but the soloing changes have a bright Duke-like feel. There's a nice groove happening, which is what attracted me to this track.

Max uses a few basic comping ideas here, and plays very crisp four-bar phrases without being too obvious about it. You can get a sense of what he's thinking phrasing-wise by checking out the bass drum— he plays it sparsely, mostly on downbeats, and doesn't put it in the same place in the phrase all the time. He often plays the busier things at phrase endings a little louder, acting like a conductor. 

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