Roy Haynes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Roy Haynes 

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For the second year in a row, the Jazz Showcase kicks off its annual Charlie Parker Month celebration with a band led by the apparently ageless drummer Roy Haynes. Haynes turned 77 this past spring, but both onstage and off his compact body exudes a coiled, leonine energy that threatens all conventional theories of geriatrics; at the awards ceremonies and tributes that fill an increasing portion of his schedule, he bounces around the room in snakeskin boots and cuts a visible wake through the crowd. In 1949 and '50, near the beginning of his career, Haynes played regularly with Parker, and since his appearance in Chicago last August he's released a highly acclaimed disc, Birds of a Feather (Dreyfus), dedicated to him. Haynes's resume also includes long-term musical relationships with the two great tenor saxists who bracket Parker in the jazz canon, Lester Young and John Coltrane--he's the only man to have played in the working bands of all three--and a satisfying mid-50s stint with demanding vocalist Sarah Vaughan; taken together with his own wonderful fusion bands of the 70s and 80s, these experiences testify convincingly to his remarkable versatility. I can suggest the outlines of his style by mentioning the explosive fills he developed contemporaneously with Art Blakey; the crisp cymbal colors that predated, then drew from, the work of Tony Williams; and his delightfully imaginative permutations of the beat, which have become a calling card among drummers of the generation that followed his own. But that's mere analysis, and as with any great jazz artist--a category to which Haynes belongs by any measure--the poetry comes from his continuing, alchemical recombination of these resources in the crucible of improvisation. I don't recall Haynes ever leading a bad band, but these days his elder-statesman stature draws especially high-quality sidemen, and his unflagging musical virility ensures they play to the height of their abilities. For these shows his quartet will consist of excellent young tenor saxist Marcus Strickland, pianist Martin Bejerano, and bassist John Sullivan. Tuesday through Thursday, July 30 through August 1, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, August 2 and 3, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, August 4, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

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