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JT’s Editor Introduces the November 2011 Issue

Drummers Terri Lyne Carrington & Roy Haynes are featured artists

One of the most comforting things about jazz is how it treats age. A music this simultaneously earthy and sophisticated is a lifelong pursuit in the most literal sense. If you need proof, flip to Nate Chinen’s profile of 86-year-old Roy Haynes, who is as relevant to the scene now as he was in 1950. But Haynes also underscores a fact that is much less empowering to a so-so improviser like me whose college days have long since passed. As in sports, famous jazz musicians tend to be contenders as adolescents, winning awards, being noticed by older musicians and generally building expectations while finding a voice. Sure, there might be the odd middle-aged journeyman out there somewhere, gearing up for a grand entrance. For the most part, however, jazz isn’t acting or literature, where decades of rejection don’t necessarily discount the possibility of an Oscar or a Great American Novel.

Cover subject Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz drumming’s resident Jodie Foster during the late ’70s and ’80s, is one of the music’s most severe examples of early promise, but our other feature subjects, Haynes and drummer-composer John Hollenbeck, were notably precocious, too, even if they weren’t marketed by promoters as child prodigies. More important, their abilities transcended mere performance; they arrived with personality. “Roy’s concept seemed completed early on,” Chick Corea explains to Chinen. And colleagues from Hollenbeck’s hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., recall a music student whose childlike, bookish appearance belied impressive chops and deep interests in classical music.

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