National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Roy Haynes will perform in Pittsburgh Sept. 22, in the second installment of Kente Arts Alliance’s Jazz ROYalty Series, featuring celebrated jazz artists who just happen to share the first name Roy. NEA Jazz Master is the nation’s highest honor bestowed on jazz artists.
This much anticipated concert will take place at the New Hazlett Theater, on the North Side, at 8 p.m. Haynes will perform with his Fountain of Youth Band. With his latest group of 20-somethings, Haynes elevates the performances of his Fountain of Youth Band, matching fire stroke for stroke for fire stroke, thrill for thrill, a tremendous give and take between the generations fueled by masterful musicianship and youthful abandon. Along with Haynes, the band features Jaleel Shaw, saxophones; Martin Bejerano, piano; and David Wong, bass.
This year, Haynes celebrated his 87th birthday and is still a fireball of energy. He is a flamboyant dresser who is known as much for is sartorial splendor as he is for his musicianship. Haynes is a jazz legend of unsurpassed accomplishments and for the last 60 years or more continues to wow audiences where ever he performs. According to a recent article in Jazz Times (November 2011), “Haynes is, without question, the most influential living drummer in jazz.” Guitarist Pat Metheny and one of Haynes many enthusiastic collaborators writes, “I don’t really think it is an exaggeration to call Roy the father of modern drumming” (Jazz Times, November 2011). In spite of his age and longevity in the music business, Haynes’ work is always fresh. Critics often say his music is as fresh today as it was 50 years ago when he played with Charlie Parker. But most astonishing about Haynes is that his playing and energy defy his age.
Rather than using cymbals strictly for effect, Haynes brought them to the forefront of his unique rhythmic approach. He also established a distinctly crisp and rapid-fire sound on the snare; this was the inspiration for his nickname, “Snap, Crackle,” which was famously affixed to him in the 1950s. Bassist Christian McBride, who has played on and off with Haynes for the last 20 years writes, “One of the reasons he got that nickname is that he’s so tremendously articulate on his instrument.” His snare drum, it pops, cracks, almost sounds like a pistol. His bass drum has a nice beefy punch. He really hits the drums right in the place where you can hear it the best. Not loud, but he gets such a full sound out of his drums. His cymbals are very clean and articulate; you can hear his ride cymbal pattern so clearly” (Jazz Times, November 2011).
Born March 13, 1925, Haynes has been “hard swinging” since 1944, when he made his professional debut at the age of 17 in his native Boston (Roxbury). From 1947-1949, he worked with saxophonist Lester Young, and from 1949-1952 was a member of saxophonist Charlie Parker’s quintet. He also recorded with pianist Bud Powell and saxophonists Wardell Gray and Stan Getz. From 1953-1958 he toured with Sarah Vaughan. Haynes has recorded or performed with such jazz greats as: Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. His most recent recordings as a leader are “Fountain of Youth” (2002) and “Whereas” (2006), both of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. In 2011, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in Jazz. His latest album is entitled “Roy-alty” (2011). He continues to perform worldwide promoting his new album. With his latest group of 20-somethings, Haynes elevates the performances of his FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH BAND matching stroke for stroke, thrill for thrill, a tremendous give and take between the generations fueled by masterful musicianship and youthful abandon.