A Selective Guide to the Best of Roy Haynes
Roy-Quired listening: top picks from the master's catalog
One Night Stand: Town Hall Concert 1947
Prime vintage Haynes, in the context of two important early appointments. Note how his conception of swing, behind Young, already feels fluidly modern—and how sensitively he backs Vaughan (who’s in dauntingly great form here.)
Smokestack (Blue Note)
Haynes’ snap-crackle provides the annunciatory intro to this underrated gem, recorded in 1963 and released in ’66. His subsequent playing on the album, a landmark for pianist Andrew Hill, confronts near-abstraction with indefatigable poise.
Newport ’63 (Impulse!)
It’s not just the ultimate compare-and-contrast, for those familiar with Coltrane’s regular band with drummer Elvin Jones. It’s also a sustained and monstrously great performance, bursting with pugilistic energies.
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note)
One of the most acclaimed piano trio recordings of the postbop era, this 1968 album (also with bassist Miroslav Vitous) still sounds startlingly fresh. A lot of that vitality is due to Haynes, with his elevated propulsion.
Question and Answer
An ad hoc trio document from 1990, with Metheny on guitar, Dave Holland on bass and Haynes stinging and floating across nine tracks. At the time it was vivid proof of his deep and undiminished authority; at this point it can also be seen as a highlight of its era, for all parties involved.
We Three (Prestige)
Featuring pianist Phineas Newborn and bassist Paul Chambers, this 1958 date is the first to show Haynes as a savvy bandleader, mindful of commercial imperatives even while upholding a sharp integrity.
Out of the Afternoon
Right from the start of “Moon Ray,” its opening track, Haynes’ best album sets expectations high. Then the 1962 release meets them, with an unusual mix of strong personalities—the leader plus Roland Kirk on reeds, Tommy Flanagan on piano and Henry Grimes on bass—and a bracingly soulful delivery.
True or False (Evidence)
Recorded in Paris in 1986 but only released in 1997, this energetic live album is a glimpse of the years between Haynes’ Hip Ensemble and his Fountain of Youth. He sounds decisive and tough at the helm of a responsive quartet.
The Roy Haynes Trio (Verve)
The track list on this 2000 release suggests a retrospective of Haynes’ sideman career—tunes by Monk and Metheny, Parker and Powell—but the execution couldn’t be more contemporary. He deserves as much credit for that as do his partners, pianist Danilo Pérez and bassist John Patitucci, just before they were drafted into the Wayne Shorter Quartet.
Recorded in 2002, this all-star affair is among the best of Haynes’ late-period bandleader recordings, largely for the chemistry he has with pianist Kenny Barron and guitarist John Scofield. Saxophonist Joshua Redman and bassists Dave Holland and Christian McBride also join the party, bringing their best.
Originally published in November 2011