Bed-Stuy street corner to be named after master jazz drummer Max Roach

NEW YORK — Max Roach, one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, will be honored Juneteenth when a street corner in Bedford-Stuyvesant is named after him.

The corner of Greene and Marcy avenues will be named Max Roach Way in a ceremony emceed by Brooklyn Councilman Chi Ossé.

Wednesday’s celebration will also include performances and guest speakers. Members of Roach’s family will be in attendance.

Max Roach Way “stands as a testament to the enduring impact of Roach’s contributions to music and culture,” his son Raoul Roach wrote in a Facebook post. “This street co-naming honors not only his extraordinary talent and achievements but also his deep roots in the Brooklyn community.”

The family is planning a series of events to honor Roach’s centennial year, 17 years after his death in 2007. Roach’s fans and friends have been pushing for years to name a street after him in Bed-Stuy, though previous efforts focused on Monroe Street.

“Max Roach was part of the fabric that is Bed-Stuy Brooklyn and truly deserves a street named in his honor,” reads a petition started in January 2019.

Though Roach was born Jan. 10, 1924, in North Carolina, he was raised in Brooklyn, and specifically in Bed-Stuy.

Even before he turned 30, Roach was recognized as the greatest jazz drummer of all time by his peers. He played with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in Harlem, helping to create the bebop sound that revolutionized the genre.

Jazz historian Phil Schaap of WKCR said Roach would’ve been considered the greatest even if “he had quit music when he resigned from Parker’s quintet in 1949.”

However, he continued playing with the greats, including Parker, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. In 1960, he released a civil rights statement album, “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” considered one of his finest works.

Roach was renowned among his colleagues for his ability to play with anyone, even working with hip-hop stars late in his career.

“Roach had developed his masterful technique to an irrefutable level, but he had aesthetic and personal purpose,” critic Stanley Crouch wrote for the Daily News on the occasion of Roach’s death. “Max Roach has actual majesty, something so rare in our cheap moment but a force that can inspire nostalgia. It can also inspire ability, and ability is what Roach had much more of than most in the arts, regardless of idiom. He was one of our finest.”