Personnel: Max Roach (drums); Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone); Kenny Dorham (trumpet); Ray Bryant, Billy Wallace (piano); George Morrow (bass instrument).
The waltz is not a rhythm that traditionally swings or grooves. On JAZZ IN 3/4 TIME, however, drummer/bandleader Max Roach changes all that. The program features six numbers in waltz time, including two originals by Roach, one by Sonny Rollins (who plays tenor saxophone here), and three standards written in 3/4: Oakland & Hammerstein II's "I'll Take Romance," and Rodgers & Hart's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and "Lover." Though there is a taste of the stately to-and-fro associated with the meter (especially on the intro to Rollins's "Valse Hot"), Roach and company make the form cook.
Interestingly, Roach lays back in the cut, resisting the rhythmic pyrotechnics that established him as the defining drummer of modern jazz. Still, he gently pushes at the boundaries of each measure, making the 3/4 time seem natural, and, with crack rhythm section George Morrow (bass) and Billy Wallace (piano), he provides an expansive backdrop for the horns. Rollins is in superb form here, as is trumpeter Kenny Dorham, whose clean, logical lines nicely offset Rollins's athleticism. This intriguing experiment makes for a thoroughly enjoyable set.