I never posted on Max Roach's passing, but I thought this Slate piece had a great example of Roach's incredible flexibility and inventiveness, and I had to pass it on:
His first real eye-popper—the track that has drummers shaking their heads even now, 56 years later—was "Un Poco Loco," recorded in 1951 with pianist Bud Powell.... The song [has] a crazy rhythm to begin with. But Roach adds a more complex layer that goes against Powell's rhythm, on a cowbell no less, while pounding a rumbling roll on the bass drum at a different tempo still. Simply jaw-dropping—and you can dance to it.
More remarkable, Roach clearly devised this approach on the spot. [My emphasis.] The album contains three takes of "Un Poco Loco," and the drumming is a bit different on each. On the first take, Roach hits the cowbell in a high-energy Latin rhythm that goes with Powell's rhythm; had he stopped there, it would have been impressive enough. On the second take, he tries a whole other approach, hitting only a couple beats per measure and altering the beats; it's very diverting. Only on the third and final take did he pull out the polyrhythmic marvel.