Max Roach
Percussion Bitter Sweet


4.5
superb

Review

by butcherboy USER (123 Reviews)
March 24th, 2018 | 28 replies


Release Date: 1961 | Tracklist

Review Summary: spontaneous control..

Coming in between We Insist!, his love letter to the Civil Rights Movement, and Money Jungle,
a highly-stylish atmospheric masterpiece and collaboration with Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington,
Max Roach's 1961 LP Percussion Bitter Sweet was a re-affirmation,
another feather in the cap of a man who had already emerged as one of jazz' most intrepid and involved bandleaders, as disciplined and skilled as he could be reckless. Released on Impulse!,
the jazz haven that Trane built, Percussion sees Roach marry pliancy and magnitude,
splicing vanguard free jazz havoc into his vigorous hard bop mode.

Like any astute, knowing bandleader, Roach lets every moving piece of the septet he'd assembled breathe
both separately and in collaborative spasms,
and though his name sits front and center on the marquee, Eric Dolphy's presence looms heavy over Percussion.
Dolphy had always encompassed a nonpareil space in the genre, unafraid to dive into disassembled free jazz and classical,
all the while keeping his feet firmly planted in traditionalist tonalities.
Here, he locks into a deft and distinct dynamic with Roach's turbulent rhythm, equal parts coalition and an act of mutiny,
and aside from their tandem arrays, there are moments when Percussion feels
like an unstoppable force gnashing against an immovable object,
Dolphy's propensity for chaotic avant-garde transitions slamming against Roach's brawny bebop modus.
It creates a sense of errant intensity that persists through the record's run.
Pieces like "Mama" and the endlessly anxious "Tender Warriors"
feel infinitely restless, lurching into every open space, dogged and shambolic
and somehow perfectly calibrated at the same time.

Booker Little's trumpet torches opener "Garvey's Ghost." Coming off stints with Coltrane and Dolphy, as both entered
their experimental phases, on Percussion, Little gets to flaunt his own empiricisms,
playing around with pitch and syncopation. He goes wind-drunk on "Mendacity," as Abbey Lincoln
(then Roach's wife) croons soulful couplets, until Roach snaps the song in two, ending it on
a shattered stretch of crazed percussion. The LP would become Little's last recorded material, as he would
soon die tragically of uremia, at the age of 23.

Roach closes off Percussion on a jaunty note. "Man from South Africa" is as ardent and moody as the rest
of the record, but feels neither as tense nor morphing. The horns and Dolphy's flute slide in two-step,
as the arhythmic congas fade the piece out on a twitching note. That frivolous instant seals off
Percussion Bitter Sweet on a cheeky wink, a little flourish to cap off a passionate
exercise in gutsy mastery.



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user ratings (26)
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ja-ja-jazz, ja?

Papa Universe
March 24th 2018


22432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so Roach is what's been bugging you all these days, aye?

JustJoe.
March 24th 2018


6899 Comments


Great drummer is great.

Percussionist, I should say.

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bugging?

Papa Universe
March 24th 2018


22432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cause roaches are bugs...

brainmelter
March 24th 2018


6662 Comments


fuck yes

Digging: Supine - deluge of data, recess of thought

JustJoe.
March 24th 2018


6899 Comments


*rimshot*

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

aaaaaah!















you're dead to me..

Papa Universe
March 24th 2018


22432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh well, you crushed me like some bug...

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

should review some DDT to make sure that bug is finished..

Papa Universe
March 24th 2018


22432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that review will contain too many questions, which around these parts is a bug in and of itself

bgillesp
March 24th 2018


7053 Comments


Sounds good, needing to get back on some jazz listening

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2018


19067 Comments


Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah man sweet

Digging: Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, Fripp.. great dig too.

SandwichBubble
March 24th 2018


10260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, this has a review?

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, Fripp.. great dig too.

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, Fripp.. great dig too.

SandwichBubble
March 24th 2018


10260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah so it wasn't just my pc that shit the bed

butcherboy
March 24th 2018


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea, mine glitched like an epileptic eating alka seltzer at a disco ball-making factory..

SandwichBubble
March 24th 2018


10260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Music I'm listening to right now fit really well with the site bug. At least Fripp knows his dig is great.



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