Really wonderful work from drummer Max Roach – a set of classic albums for the Black Saint/
Soul Note labels – most of which mark
an especially creative stretch in his career! The set's got some great avant moments – the brilliant Birth & Rebirth, which pairs the drums of Roach with the reeds of Anthony Braxton – at a level that's quite free, but quite spiritual too! Max also steps outside on Historic Concerts – a 2CD set of performances with pianist Cecil Taylor – a meeting that's got to be heard to be believed, as Roach almost outdoes Cecil for non-stop creative energy! Collage features the M'Boom percussion ensemble – a great group that Max was fronting at the time, and which also features percussionists and drummers Freddie Waits, Ray Mantilla, Roy Brooks, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, and Eddie Allen – a hell of a lineup who creatively mix rhythm and melody. Survivors is a bit more subtle, but quite soulful too – a set that has Max Roach handling a fair bit of percussion, and working with a hip string quartet too! Last up is Bright Moments – one of a few 80s efforts to feature Roach's Double Quartet – a group that takes his regular four-piece jazz group and augments it with a string quartet – all in a sound that's almost an extension of modes first begun by Roland Kirk in the 60s! The Kirk reference isn't accidental – as the title track here is a great version of Kirk's "Bright Moments" – one that uses the strings to offset the core jazz work of Roach on drums, Odeon Pope on tenor, Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet, and Tyrone Brown on electric bass – all in ways that are as creative as they are playful, definitely in a Kirk-styled spirit. Other tunes follow suit – and use the strings to echo Kirk's dream of a black classical music, but also one that's always firmly jazz-based at all times. Titles include "Double Delight", "Hi Fly", "Bright Moments", "Elixir Suite", and "A Tribute To Duke & Mingus".