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virgogem
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Posted on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 09:39

I don't know why I didn't put this on Cassie's "Famous People" blog, but I met Max Roach a billion (okay. 19 or 20) years ago... As a drummer who is far more avid than accomplished, I was deeply saddened to learn that Max Roach died this past week. While some of you are saying "Max Who?," jazz fans know what the world has lost. He was one of the great ones, a jazz drumming pioneer. When he wasn't out shocking the jazz world, he was teaching at UMASS. Enter me. I was in the marching band in the fall semester, and in spring us drumheads took a brutal beating in an innoccously titled class called marching percussion tech. I was a Sociology major in a room full of Music majors, but I was holding my own and feeling pretty good about it. When we found out that Max Roach was holding a master class on the same day as our class, we had no choice. We blew off the East Coast authority on marching percussion to witness a Max Roach master class. It was a classroom with a 5 piece drumkit where the desk should have been. We were all sitting there waiting when he walked in. Max frikkin' Roach! He said a few things while tuning the drums and then started playing. Wow! When he finished, he said: "I'd really like to get a feel for where you guys are at musically so I want to hear you all." Maybe it was the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, but he handed me his sticks and told me to go up there and play. As I walked to the kit, two words raced through my head over and over... Don't suck don't suck don't suck don't suck.... I have in my hands a pair of sticks that Max Roach just had in his and he wants to hear me play the drums. No Pressure. The last thing I played was a crude rendition of the beginning of Rosanna by Toto (remember them?). When I handed him the sticks back he said "I really like the shuffle pattern you just did there." Gratitude. I didn't know what it was back then, but I do now.


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virgogem
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Posted on Wed, Aug 29, 2007 11:43

Funny Shaz, we call it back in the day. LOL! Even with Rush being my musical epicenter, I always took the time to to listen to what other drummers where (and are... Hello? Carter Beauford?) doing. I've been thinking these crazy thoughts lately about going back to school. Master classes is as good of a reason as any! I haven't done a Nutcracker tour in a long time, but I do remember the dancers talking about Mia Michaels. I Googled her this morning and was treated to clips of her work. Her dancers seem to have phenomenal cat-sense. As high flying as the choreography is, they know where the floor is at all times. Cassie, have you found Rosanna yet? Hope you like it. The album is called Toto IV. If you've found that, check out the last track called Africa. Rosanna was a big hit for Toto, but Africa put them on the map. (Aren't I the punny one!) The percussion is tastefully woven throughout and the instrumental section in the middle is amazing! again, hope you like it.


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shazbot82
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Posted on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 11:49

How cool to have that experience ! ....The World has lost a great one with Mr Roachs passing. You made the right decision to go to his session. Roseanna was a fav song back in the day...."not quiet a year since you went away..." Many of the local colleges,,even JC's offer the opportunity to take Master Classes with visiting greats. People who arent enrolled can usually attend if they make the arrangements in advance. The JC I went to for art classes had affiliations with several of the UC campuses..we were able to go see a Master Glass Blower from Italy ( I cant recall his name, but his pieces sell for well into the 5 figures) The JC itself hosted a famous Latino Beat Poet..he recited fiery , passionate poetry while us students made single press Ink prints...it was quiet the experience. ABout ten years ago, the Dance dept had Mia Micheals come in for a Master Series on Lyrical Modern Dance. I didnt know who she was until watching "So you Think You Can Dance" this last summer ! I do remember being mesmerized by watching her dance.


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virgogem
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Posted on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 10:52

Don't suck don't suck don't suck for the love of god James don't suck!!! Sorry, I was reliving the magic! Thank you Cassie! You're so kind! If there is anything I can do to make your day a little less harrowing please let me know. Barbara, could you be a nicer friend? I'm clearly the lucky one here. Wish I didn't have to, but off to work for me... James.


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