Director(s): Sam Pollard, Ben Shapiro
Film description: MAX ROACH: THE DRUM ALSO WALTZES explores the life and music of the legendary drummer, composer, bandleader, and social activist through a remarkable series of creative peaks, struggles, and personal reinventions—from the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights years, surveying the heady days of post-war modern jazz to hip-hop and beyond.
Programmers notes: If you’re reading this in The Charles Theatre, you’re reading this in a space Max Roach played more than once. Where The Charles’ projection booths are now located was once The Famous Ballroom, the home venue for Baltimore’s Left Bank Jazz Society from the 1960s into the 1980s, where innumerable legends played and whose Sunday jazz nights Roach often headlined. The Left Bank was renowned among musicians as a space they could really let loose and explore their own personal worlds of sound.
Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes brings the world of sound of its subject alive in a way few music documentaries have. Recent Baltimore transplant Sam Pollard and co-director Ben Shapiro (note: NOT the conservative columnist) immerse us in the many phases of Roach’s music from the birth of bebop to the age of hip-hop; his innovative and inspiring melding of civil-rights activism and his art; and all the triumphs and heartaches that come with a life fully lived. It’s a film as rigorous and passionate in its craft as its subject was in his—and as enjoyable to watch as it is essential.
Join us Sunday night as we welcome this exceptional filmmaker to Baltimore as our closing-night filmmaker. Following the film, Pollard will be joined in conversation by music journalist Marcus J. Moore, the author of The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America, who has written about jazz for The New York Times, The Nation, NPR, Tidal, and other major outlets.