Remembering Mickey Roker

Photo by Rene Speur

Photo by Rene Speur

SKF NOTE: Modern jazz first clicked for me at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island while I was listening to Charles Mingus‘s group. Included in that group was a skinny, long-haired saxophonist named Bobby Jones.

It was impossible at that time to find a Mingus album in the United States with Bobby Jones on it. A few years later, when Cobblestone records came out with The Arrival of Bobby Jones, I grabbed, loved it, and listened to it over and over.

This album was also my introduction to Mickey Roker whose playing on Track 1, Side A — Thanks to Trane — was frightening. The tempo seemed impossibly fast. How could I, an aspiring professional drummer, ever hope to play that well?

And a few years later still I saw Dizzy Gillespie in concert in Iowa. There was Mickey Roker in the drum chair. A nice surprise. He played superb.

Mr. Roker remains a favorite. I cannot recall hearing him not play very, very well.

And, as I said, this tune is where Mickey Roker and I first said hello.


About Scott K Fish
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