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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Jazz drummer Max Roach dies at 83
Max Roach
Roach recorded with Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis and Nat King Cole
Legendary jazz drummer Max Roach, best known for creating the fast-paced bebop style, has died in New York aged 83.

His record label, Blue Note, said it was saddened by the death of a man it described as "an unmistakable force on numerous classic recordings".

Fellow musician Quincy Jones said: "Thank God he left a piece of his soul on his recordings so that we'll always have a part of him with us."

No cause of death was given for the star, who died in his sleep.

Born in North Carolina in 1924, Roach became the house drummer at the legendary New York club Monroe's Uptown House in his teens.

He helped develop the bebop style while playing with the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie at Monroe's and another influential New York venue, Minton's Playhouse.

'Grand master'

Before bebop, jazz was primarily swing music played in dance halls, and drummers served to keep time for the band, Blue Note spokesman Cem Kurosman said.

Roach, along with fellow-drummer Kenny Clarke, changed that by shifting the time-keeping function to the cymbal, allowing the drums to play a more expressive and melodic role.

Max Roach
Roach began drumming before the age of 10
In the process, he contributed to the shift of jazz from popular dance music to an art form that fans appreciated sitting in clubs, Kurosman added.

The self-trained percussionist also took part in sessions with Miles Davis, which were later released as The Birth Of Cool.

The quintet he co-founded with Clifford Brown in 1954 is considered one of the classic ensembles in jazz.

After Brown's death in a car crash with bandmate Richie Powell in 1956, Roach led a series of bands that included a who's who of jazz associates.

Max Roach
Roach also wrote music for theatre and film in his later years
Roach also brought politics into his art, becoming one of jazz's loudest voices for civil rights.

In 1960 he created We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite, a seven-part movement that addressed slavery and racism in America.

In later years, he recorded with his daughter Maxine, a jazz violinist, and rap artist Fab Five Freddy.

The drummer also became the first jazz musician to be honoured with a MacArthur Fellowship - receiving a $372,000 (188,000) "genius grant" in 1988.

He is survived by five children: sons Daryl and Raoul, and daughters Maxine, Ayo and Dara.

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