RIP Max Roach.

Max Roach died not long ago. I never got Max Roach when I was growing up. I didn't like his music. I listened to a lot of it, but I listened to it because I wanted to like it, not because I did.

I didn't get Max Roach because it sounded to me like he didn't really know what he was doing. It sounded like he was just fucking around. "Improvisation" is one thing, but you have to have some kind of idea in mind of where you're going next, right?

I never got Max Roach until I saw him play. In a way, he is just fucking around. Of course, he knows where his pieces are going. He knows what's coming next.

But really, he's doing exactly what you're supposed to do. He's playing. He's not playing an instrument, or playing a game. It's somewhere beautifully, ingeniously in between. He's not playing something. There's no object. He's just playing.

He's not experimenting. He's not confounding expectations. He's not subverting ideologies, or challenging his listeners. He's just playing. And he can play whatever he wants. So he plays whatever he wants. Like a child. Like a genius. Like a prodigy. Not like an art student. Like an artist. And if it ends up being an experiment; if it ends up confounding expectations; if it ends up subverting ideologies; if it ends up challenging his listener, so much the better. Because, if it does those things, maybe the person listening doesn't remember what it was like to take off the bridle and just play.

Now, all I want in life is to be able to fuck around at something, anything, as well as Max Roach could fuck around on the drums. I just want to play something like that. Anything. Just to play.

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