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Artist’s Choice: Paul Carr on Roy Haynes

Saxophonist and festival director picks his favorites by the legendary drummer

Roy Haynes at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival

Roy Haynes started playing professionally in 1945 and he still sounds fresh and better than ever today. Haynes has played with everybody in jazz from Lester Young to Christian McBride. No matter the artist or the size of the band or style, Roy Haynes kills it. Here are some of my favorite Roy Haynes tracks. With a recording career that has spans over 60 years, this was hard to do.

Since 2010, I have been organizing the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, Maryland and I have always wanted to invite Haynes to perform with his great group. It took a couple years, but this year he’ll be playing at the festival with his Fountain of Youth Band featuring Jaleel Shaw, Martin Bejerano and John Sullivan. I know it will be one of the real highlights of the festival for me. Before Haynes’ performance, we will honor him with the MAJF Ronnie Wells Jazz Service Award for his stellar performing career and for sharing his knowledge with next generation of jazz musicians, right from the bandstand.

“Shulie a Bop”

Sarah Vaughan
Swingin’ Easy (Emarcy, 1957)

Haynes’ complementary rhythmic accents with Vaughan’s scatting here is impeccable. Haynes’ solo sounds like his drums are talking … some sweet and tasty playing.

“Tadd Delight”

Roy Haynes
We Three (New Jazz, 1958)

Roy Haynes’ trio with Phineas Newborn and Paul Chambers made a great record with many highlights, but on this track the trading between Chambers and Haynes is fantastic. A great musical conversation between bass and drums sets up Haynes’ crisp and witty solo.


Roy Haynes
Out of the Afternoon (Impulse!, 1962)

Haynes’ uptempo playing is on display here and his ability to be melodic at fast tempos still amazes me. The melodic interplay between Haynes and Roland Kirk is masterful during Kirk’s solo. An epic Haynes solo follows. This CD is a must-have for all drummers.


John Coltrane
Newport ’63 (Impulse!, 1993)

This classic recording is without a doubt one the most listened to and studied recordings by saxophonists and jazz enthusiasts alike. Haynes is subbing for Elvin Jones on this date, and he and Coltrane push each other to their creative limits and beyond! I love Haynes’ accents on the snare during McCoy Tyner’s solo, never overbearing, just enough to feed the creative fire. The duet with Coltrane and Haynes is simply among the best ever of that kind. This is one of my favorite recordings and again, Roy Haynes is one of the most resourceful and musical drummers ever.


Oliver Nelson
The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961)

Honestly, I got this record back in the days when I only used to listen to saxophone players. Years later, when I learned how to listen to music, I realized it was Roy Haynes on drums and this particular recording heightened my admiration of him. This is one of Oliver Nelson’s finest recordings and everybody on the date is in rare form. On “Hoe-Down,” the solos are great!

“Das’ Dat”

Jackie McLean
It’s Time (Blue Note, 1964)

This tune is a medium blues and Haynes is swinging so hard it sounds like he’s back there baking a cake! Haynes’ beat is big and greasy, you can tell Jackie McLean and Charles Tolliver really enjoyed the blow on this one.

“Have You Met Miss Jones?”

McCoy Tyner Trio
Reaching Fourth (Impulse!, 1963)

A nice, slick arrangement of this standard and mighty fine brush work by Haynes. Tyner’s harmonic treatments of this are so cool, smart and musical. The trading of fours between Haynes and Tyner is priceless; their rhythmic synergy is obvious.

“My Shining Hour”

Roy Haynes
My Shining Hour (Storyville, 1994)

After receiving the Jazzpar award from the Danish government, Haynes performed concerts with a stellar group of European musicians and the result was this great CD. On this track, Haynes puts tenor man Thomas Franck to the test and Franck shows that he has done his homework with his Michael Brecker-inspired play. haynes sets the tone with a rousing solo to begin the track.


Roy Haynes
Birds Of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker (Dreyfus, 2001)

I love the way Haynes plays on Kenny Garrett’s solo on this one. Garrett begins his solo with a hip harmonic concept. Haynes hears it immediately and then the band follows. It’s easy to understand why everybody loves to play with Roy Haynes.

“Passion Dance”

Roy Haynes
Roy-Alty (Dreyfus, 2011)

I picked up this CD after sitting 10 feet in front of Roy during a concert just a few months ago. There’s no way you can tell he’s 86; his playing is modern, creative and as powerful as ever. Just listen to the collective free improvisation section at the end of this track. Haynes is leading the group with rhythmic ideas and imagination. Roy Haynes is the greatness jazz drummer ever because he simply kills everything and everybody loves it.

Originally Published