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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Roach, Max - Live At Blues Alley
Format: DVD|Change
Price:$14.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on February 15, 2012
First off, this is a historical event. I truly hope that one day, some day, the Blues Alley releases all the treasures in its vault. This release is as good as it gets, considering the time of its recording. 3 camera angles and 2.0 channels today seem ancient, but it could be worse. Recommended for die hard Max Roach fans and drum enthusiasts not for the snob home theater owner who wants to show off his/her set up. The atmosphere is very intimate and the quality of the music is simply fantastic. These four guys put up an excellent 60 minute show. So good, it leaves you begging for more.
Highly recommended.
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on April 30, 2017
Love it!
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on February 9, 2014
Most excellent jam session. Audio very good. It is amazing to see the music being produced by such an energetic band. I felt Oeden Pope was not given equal opportunity to solo, but when he did, boy he can breathe. Wonderful sax.
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on June 17, 2012
A while ago I bought this DVD. Although I wasn't even expecting great audio, the sound on this DVD is killing the joy of this small club concert. I love Max's playing and skills but I wouldn't recommend this DVD to anyone but die-hard collectors.

Patrick Peeters
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on March 29, 2013
I'm no diehard Max Roach collector, but after seeing this I'll listen more closely to what I've got, and check what's missing from my CD shelves. Roach is clearly in charge of every turn this piano-less quartet takes, 'though the instrumentalists are left plenty of elbow room to stretch out. Sound and all, this is a top-rate video transcription of a superb night of live jazzmaking from 1981; a 60-min testament not just to Roach, but to all of these players.

Evident since his time with Clifford Brown and especially Sonny Rollins, Roach has always favored a certain dryness in his music-making - which also cooks beyond that very well-rehearsed, rather cerebral groove. This group's whole approach is unique: the drumkit's off to a side, not to the back, and Roach rises, walks around and introduces each song with levity yet the polish of the emcee at a recital - which this very much is. He knows how special what they have to offer really is, and the clearly appreciative audience backs that right up.

All nattily dressed, the players are deeply in the zone, loosening the disciplined tightness during their solos. Beyond Roach himself, bassist Calvin Hill from the very start, like trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater a bit later, goes far out with edgy, even hair-raising solos. Hill at one point toys at the highest registers of his upright, and Bridgewater also plunges deep into a most unusual extended solo with just the trumpet's mouthpiece blown into cupped hands - besides riffing on other, more characteristic sax solos. Odean Pope on sax keeps up and adds plenty to the mix, but doesn't seem to have much that's dangerous to say on this night, or to raise him to the orbits the others sometimes reach. Their considerable wares, again, are very much in the fore - with a special mention perhaps for the near-obscure Calvin Hill, who comes on strong from the start. Roach may have been the boss throughout, but you'll certainly find equality in each musician's role throughout the concert.

It's visibly hot under the lights on this Washington night, but although the venue was small the sound doesn't come out boxy. Fine sound systems have apparently bred a lot of silly snobbery, as some have said in this forum: this is a touch close, but, overall, the sound's not just okay but quite fine thank you.

Five songs take up the whole hour, and each one's replay-worthy. There are no close captions for Roach's chats; the players' names ought to be stamped on the back cover: it's only fitting for musicians from a tradition where LPs, and the CDs that have followed, studiously list all names. Especially deserved since they play so very well.

A peak evening for small combo jazz. Strongly recommended.
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on July 28, 2011
I don't understand why this dvd hasn't gotten any reviews yet. Max Roach is widely considered to be the father of modern drumming and a pillar of American Jazz music. I've been searching for Max's live performance dvds for years and have to settle for really old, inferior youtube clips. To my knowledge this is the only Max Roach concert dvd out there, with the exception of his instructional VHS and bird/gillespie tribute. This one is in full color, has great audio and camera work. Some might get turned off by the 4 or 5 songs listed at the back but i assure you there's a lot more songs than that. As a bonus, you'll hear Professor Max Roach share his 1st hand experience on the development of jazz/bop music. My only gripe is you'll see Max playing mostly matched grip instead of the classic traditional grip but that's a minor quibble. Please do yourself a favor and get this now before it goes out of print.
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