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The Gig: Haynes, His Way

Fifty years ago, a United States Senator named John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to mark the first anniversary of a Hungarian student uprising against Communist rule. Noting ruefully that the subsequent revolution had failed, he issued an exhortation: “So let us remember the living as well as the dead.” Kennedy was paraphrasing Lincoln, a senatorial practice that hasn’t gone out of style, judging by our current campaign season. The draft of the speech preserved at his presidential library shows a line drawn through a similar lead-in clause: “Let us look to the future, and not alone to the past.”

It may seem a stretch, but I bear these mandates in mind as I salute the late Max Roach, who is beautifully eulogized two pages preceding this one by Gary Giddins, with an appreciation of Roach’s vital contemporary Roy Haynes. I happened to be speaking with Haynes a few days before Roach’s death, and so the notion was already on my mind in August, when I attended the bebop hero’s majestic funeral at the Riverside Church in New York. There I took note of a pertinent quip in “Digging Max,” a poem by Amiri Baraka reprinted in this issue on page 38. It came during a litany of epithets for Roach, when Baraka dropped one in particular-“Roy Haynes’ inventor”-that elicited chuckles among the crowd. I had to wonder whether Haynes, one of many legends in the pews, felt the slightest sting.

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Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).