Celebrating Max Roach Day
Renown drummer and composer, the late, great Max Roach, was feted by Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium and Concord Baptist Church of Christ on what would have been this jazz giant’s 99th birthday; and launched a series of events coming in 2023 leading to Roach’s centennial birthday.
Kevin Thorbourne, Project Manager with the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame, welcomed the musicians and a hefty dose of jazz aficionados to Restoration’s Skylight Gallery on January 10. Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s Chairman, Clarence Mosley, Jr., joined in by thanking the Roach children (Daryl and Maxine) for their tireless contributions in bring the project to fruition. Many of the musicians and guests shared reminisce of time spent with Max. Included in this group was Roach’s high school mate and band member, Cecil Bridgewater.
Max’s music training began at his family’s church, Concord Baptist, where he learned drumming, but it was as a student at Boy’s High School Roach joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra for a .series of concerts at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater which launched his path to greatness.
Roach’s accomplishments are numerous. He co-founded Debut Records with bassist Charles Mingus. This was one of the first artist-owned labels. The label released a record of a May 15, 1953 concert billed as “the greatest concert ever” known as Jazz at Massey Hall.
In 1972 Roach was recruited to the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and taught there until the mid-1980s. Roach was the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1988 and cited as a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France 1989. He was twice awarded the French Grand Prix du Disque; elected to the International Percussive Art Society’s Hall of Fame and was awarded the Harvard Grand Master. He was celebrated by Aaron Davis Hall and was given eight honorary doctorate degrees, including degrees awarded by Medgar Evers College, CUNY, the University of Bologna, and Columbia University, and his alma mater, the Manhattan School of Music. These are just a few of the honors bestowed upon Max Roach.
Representing Assemblyperson Stefani L. Zinerman, a proclamation was given to the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame proclaiming January 10 as Max Roach Day.
New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Laurie Cumbo, gave a rousing word of support for the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s dedication to promote this cultural art form, and to support them as they go forward. She echoed CBJC’s reminder to our young generation to remember that Max Roach’s greatness was in our midst.
From personal experience, Cumbo was able to affirm, “Max Roach paved the way by being so accessible to our communities and not locking himself away from the civil rights struggles that continue on today.”
The ceremony was serenaded from opening to the end with cool jazz provided by the Dwayne Broadnax Cook Trio, which includes Danny Mixon and Eric Lemon. Ekua Dixon performed a solo number on bass.
This celebration and more to come, is the brainchild of CBJC’s treasurer, Robert “Bob” Myers, and he has to be commended on a job well done in honoring a son of Bed-Stuy.
There’s more to come, so look for events in 2023 being held all over the city!
For information on upcoming events contact Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium; http://cbjcjazz.iorg; phone (718) 467-1527. Support CBJC by donating at paypal.me/cbjc300