Roy Haynes is 93!

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From Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz Charlie Parker Tribute, April, 1973 with Roy Haynes on drums, 48 at the time, Howard McGhee and Jimmy Owens, trumpet, Cecil Payne and Lee Konitz on sax, Ted Dunbar, guitar and Richard Davis on bass.

ROY HAYNES is the pulse of legendary jazz. For over 70 years Roy Haynes has influenced and innovated, shaping some of the greatest recordings in jazz while his joyous drumming with the legends of the genre altered the very fabric and direction of jazz improvisation.

Louis Armstrong. Lester Young. Charlie Parker. Thelonius Monk. Sarah Vaughn. Miles Davis. John Coltrane. Dizzy Gillespie. Bud Powell. Ella Fitzgerald. Stan Getz. Chick Corea. Pat Metheny. The list goes on and on as does Roy’s unflagging energy and marvelous invention.

When Roy Haynes plays his drums, sixty years of experience informs every authoritative stroke. A working musician since 1942, Haynes’ unrelenting swing and sound of surprise has graced the bands of a who’s-who list of jazz innovators across a wide spectrum of improvisation.

Roy Haynes was born in Boston, March 13, 1925, and was keenly interested in jazz ever since he can remember. Primarily self-taught, he began to work locally in 1942 with musicians like the Charlie Christian inflected guitarist Tom Brown, bandleader Sabby Lewis, and Kansas City blues-shout alto saxophonist Pete Brown, before getting a call in the summer of 1945 to join legendary bandleader Luis Russell (responsible for much of Louis Armstrong’s musical backing from 1929 to 1933) to play for the dancers at New York’s legendary Savoy Ballroom. When not travelling with Russell, the young drummer spent much time on Manhattan’s 52nd Street and uptown in Minton’s, the legendary incubator of bebop, soaking up the scene.

Haynes was Lester Young’s drummer from 1947 to 1949, worked with Bud Powell and Miles Davis in ’49, became Charlie Parker’s drummer of choice from 1949 to 1953, toured the world with Sarah Vaughan from 1954 to 1959, did numerous extended gigs with Thelonious Monk in 1959-60, made eight recordings with Eric Dolphy in 1960-61, worked extensively with Stan Getz from 1961 to 1965, played and recorded with the John Coltrane Quartet from 1963 to 1965, has intermittently collaborated with Chick Corea since 1968, and with Pat Metheny during the ’90s. Metheny was featured on Haynes’ previous Dreyfus release Te Vou! (voted by NAIRD as Best Contemporary Jazz Record of 1996). He’s been an active bandleader from the late ’50s to the present, featuring artists in performance and on recordings like Phineas Newborn, Booker Ervin, Roland Kirk, George Adams, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Ralph Moore and Donald Harrison. A perpetual top three drummer in the Downbeat Readers Poll Awards, he won the Best Drummer honors in 1996, and in that year received the prestigious French Chevalier des l’Ordres Artes et des Lettres.

On Praise, he gathers a top-shelf quintet of improvisers half his age. The 72-year-old master attacks nine tunes from each conceivable angle and possible configuration; typically, his young cohorts have to exert every ounce of creative energy not to be left in the dust. Those youngbloods include two newcomers to Haynes’ circle, altoist Kenny Garrett and tenorist David Sanchez. Roy’s son Graham Haynes adds his distinctive sound on cornet and flugelhorn to the powerful front line. Pianist David Kikoski has been with Haynes for 15 years, while bassist Dwayne Burno is a recent initiate.

As on his previous two recordings for Dreyfus (When It’s Haynes, It Roars and Te Vou!), Praise refers to Haynes’ glorious legacy while adhering firmly to his credo, «Now is the time.» Within the imaginative arrangements, Haynes stamps his personality on each tune, intuitively designing rhythmic phrases like a great tap dancer. «I structure pieces like riding a horse,» he says. «You pull a rein here, you tighten it up here, you loosen it there. I’m still sitting in the driver’s seat, so to speak. I let it loose, I let it go, I see where it’s going and what it feels like. Sometimes I take it out, sometimes I’ll be polite, nice and let it move and breathe — always in the pocket and with feeling. So the music is tight but loose.»

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