Saturday, April 27, 2013


Drummer Roy Haynes

The jazz drummer Roy Haynes résumé’ is thicker than a collegiate dictionary. Haynes has been involved in every development in jazz which includes swing, bebop, hard bop, free jazz, and jazz fusion. Haynes officially stepped into the limelight in 1947 when he joined the swing era tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Haynes has been in the limelight since. 

As a sideman, Haynes has played with many greats Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughn, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Chick Corea. The bandleader section of his résumé’ is also astonishing. To date, Haynes has released roughly three dozen albums.  "We Three," "Cracklin'," "Out of the Afternoon," and "Cymbalism" are jazz masterpieces. As far back as memory serves, Haynes has always been a flashy drummer, and a noted fashionista. 

At 88, the same holds true. Haynes is jazz’s oldest living ham. That was on full display Friday evening at Orchestra Hall in Detroit, Michigan. Haynes’ current band the Fountain of Youth played the second to last concert of the 2013 Paradise Jazz Series. 

At times, the hour plus concert was messy. But the jazz series audience overlooked that. Haynes is the consummate showman, big on audience participation. Besides, Haynes knows how to win over an audience. The young musicians Haynes currently run the streets with saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Martin Bejerano, and bassist John Sullivan who subbed for David Wong were competent. 

Haynes began the set with Thelonious Monk’s gem “Trinkle Tinkle”. Then before Haynes called the next number, he broke into a tap-dance routine. Surprisingly, Haynes was good at it. 

Normally, Haynes waits until the end of a concert to put on a drum exhibition. Last night, Haynes did so for the third number. It was lengthy, flashy, and Haynes displayed the energy and anticipation of a horny teenager on prom night. 

The evening belonged to Jaleel Shaw as much as it did to Haynes. Shaw is indebted to the great alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. Shaw’s Parker-like manner may explain Haynes attraction to Shaw. On  Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing," Shaw roared like a blood thirsty lion. On the ballads “Star Eyes” and “My Romance,” Shaw played softly as snow landing on cotton. 

Martin Bejerano was off. His solos were a bore. Somehow, he managed to suck the life out the piano. Although the concert was messy in spots, the audience was pleased. They lavished Haynes with a long ovation. They didn’t calm down until Haynes obliged them with an encore. 

At the end of the encore, Haynes did another tap-dance routine. Even though Haynes is nearly 90, he’s still spunky and still able to captivate an audience. Few jazz fans will disagree Haynes remains one of the flashiest jazz drummer out there, and is jazz’s oldest living ham.   

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