Drummer Max Roach has been a vital force in shaping jazz music, for he alone bridges the Swing, Bop, and Avant Garde eras. In 1942, at the age of eighteen, he was already playing with the Duke Ellington orchestra; soon afterward, he met trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and went on to forge some of the first Bebop rhythms. Roach pioneered the use of polyrhythms, or multiple interlocking rhythms with different meters that share the same pulse and thus may be played simultaneously. In 1954, Roach formed his own quintet with trumpet virtuoso Clifford Brown which thrived until Brown and pianist Richie Powell were killed in a car accident. Roach has since led countless bands and worked with dozens of Post Bop and avant-garde players. He's tackled political themes in his music, led an all-percussion ensemble, and worked in multimedia with dancers and video artists. His latest combo often plays alongside a string quartet.