One of the phenomena of the reassertion of jazz in this decade has been the artistic mating of pioneers of the '40s and the '50s with younger musicans.
In his present quartet, Max Roach, the principal architect of bebop drumming, has teamed up with three strong players of a younger school of jazz.
On "Mwalimu," Calvin Hill applied to the string bass the sudden, deep descents that Odean Pope, the composer of the piece, had been producing moments before on tenor sax. Extraordinary exchanges, both rhythmic and melodic, took place between Hill and Roach.
"It's Time" was introduced by Roach as "what it was like growing up on 52nd St. in the '40s." He maintained a murderous tempo that Cecil Bridegewater matched with successions of split notes on his trumpet, showing him to be in total command of the higher registers of his instrument.
"Six Bits Blues," inspired by "one of American's great poets, Langston Hughes," featured Bridgewater. The cries and moans he coaxed from his hand-muted horn and later his mouth-piece ran the gamut from despair and pain to ecstacy and the broad humor of the erotic blues.
The Max Roach Quartet remains at Blues Alley through Sunday.