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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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MAX ROACH

Deeds, Not Words

Jazz Plaza Music JPM 8804

 

 


1. You Stepped Out of a Dream
2. Filid‚
3. It's You or No One
4. Jodie's Cha-Cha
5. Deeds, Not Words
6. Larry-Larue
7. Conversation
8. Love For Sale
9. Minor Mode Blues
10. The Scene is Clean
11. La Villa
12. A Night in Tunisia
13. Deeds, Not Words
14. Minor Mode Blues
15. Tune Up

Booker Little - Trumpet
George Coleman - Tenor sax
Ray Draper - Tuba
Art Davis - Bass
Max Roach - Drums

 

The original LP called Deeds, Not Words was recorded in Los Angeles in September 1958. This reissue adds three extra tracks (nos. 8-10) from a TV show a month later, plus five tracks recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival that same year. The personnel was the same for all the recordings. The most unusual thing about the line-up was the presence of a tuba player - a teenager named Ray Draper who had already played with Jackie McLean, Donald Byrd and John Coltrane.

This was the first quintet that Max Roach led after the famous group which included Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins. It has to be said that, perhaps not surprisingly, this new group was not up to the standard of its predecessors. Booker Little was certainly no Clifford Brown. On a number like the breakneck It's You or No One, he plays lots of notes but they don't mean much. George Coleman's more coherent solos make better sense. But the main drawback is Ray Draper's tuba, which simply can't keep up with many of the fast tempos that Roach sets. At times Ray's playing reminds me regretfully of Spike Jones' version of The Flight of the Bumble Bee. The tuba is admittedly a cumbersome instrument and difficult to use in modern jazz, but Draper is not as agile as some superior tuba players I have heard.

Despite these drawbacks, the album contains some exciting music. For instance, Love for Sale is given a new twist with dislocated rhythms, and Booker Little's ultra-fast solo is well-built, although things become embarrassing when Ray Draper tries to solo at the same manic tempo. Max Roach contributes many thrilling drum solos throughout, although many of them are based on fast single-stroke rolls stretched across the snare drum and tomtoms or repetitive patterns between these and the bass drum. His solo drum feature, Conversation, is more varfied.

The last five tracks, recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival (before the other selections) seem particularly uncoordinated. A Night in Tunisia includes some awkward tuba, a fragmentary trumpet solo, and Max varies the tempo uncomfortably. The result is a group with less clean-lined playing than Roach's earlier quintets.

Tony Augarde



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