Album of the week: Percussion Bitter Sweet by Max Roach

Each week our music editor Dave Randall picks an album (with a local connection) you need to hear…

Last week I briefly mentioned Max Roach Park, which got me thinking that it’s time for an album featuring the great man himself.

Max Roach was, of course, one of the most prolific jazz drummers of all time.

Max Roach
Max Roach at the Three Deuces in New York around 1947.
William P. Gottlieb/United States Library of Congress

He was playing be-bop with Charlie Parker when he was just a teenager and he continued to make groundbreaking music throughout his life.

He also used his music to advocate for civil rights and Black liberation politics.

When, in 1986, councillor Sharon Atkin persuaded Lambeth to pay tribute to Roach, he visited Brixton to officially open the park that bears his name. He also dropped into the Effra Hall Tavern to sit in behind the kit.

There are so many great Max Roach albums to listen to. I’ve chosen Percussion Bitter Sweet, from 1961. Enjoy.

Memorial sculpture on the corner of Brixton Road and St George’s Crescent. Titled ‘First Child’ by Raymond Watson, it was erected as a memorial to the 116 children who died in Soweto on 16 June 1976. It was unveiled by Happy Mahlangu, Deputy Commissioner for South Africa on 13 June 1998