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Jazz Pioneer Max Roach Dies at 83

Master jazz percussionist Max Roach has died after a long illness. He was 83 years old.

Blue Note Records says the musician died Wednesday night at a hospital in New York City.

Roach's rhythms helped define the bebop jazz movement of the 1940s, which he pioneered alongside legendary performers Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins.

Layering beats and introducing new meters, Roach pushed jazz music beyond the boundaries of standard four-four time. Roach's innovations - including his creative use of cymbals - helped elevate the role of the drummer from timekeeper to featured performer.

During the 1960s, Roach tackled political and racial issues in his music, showing his support of black activism.

Later in life, he taught music at the University of Massachusetts and formed his own ensemble of percussionists.

In 1988, he became one of the first jazz musicians to receive a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, or so-called "genius award."

Roach was born in New Land, North Carolina, on January 10, 1924, but grew up in Brooklyn. He is survived by five children.

Bebop is characterized by fast tempos, complex melodies and improvisation. The bebop movement helped redefine jazz as an art form.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

 

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