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Roy Haynes: Force of Nature

Roy Haynes

One of the most powerful natural resources of the jazz world is the kinetic drumming of Roy Haynes. To those veterans of the scene who would have us believe the adage ‘ain’t but a few of ’em left,’ Roy Haynes is certainly one of the classic survivors of bebop, even pre-bop for that matter. At age 71 looking at least 20 years younger and sounding like a young lion, Haynes is one of the wonders of the jazz wars, a true survivor who remains a commanding presence at the drums, whipping and driving a band like a team of untamed horses, eyes keen and piercing, face aglow with the joy of music making, athletically supple wrists and agile hands manipulating drumsticks as if they were his birthright. Still swinging after all these years, Haynes is in the midst of a minor renaissance on native soil, courtesy of his July-November tour of Lila Wallace-Readers Digest National Jazz Network sites that has taken him from Burlington, VT to Seattle, WA. We caught him chillin’ at his Long Island home, savoring the tour, his band and the richness of jazz itself.

Is this tour a bit of a throwback to bygone days? “To some extent, because when I first came to New York and I was playing with big bands we played places like North Carolina, Louisville, Houston, New Orleans, which are all on this tour. It is different and unique, especially for Roy Haynes to be doing a tour in the United States of America. I was kind of hesitant about doing it at first, but then somebody spoke to me about how much it would mean for even some of the newer, younger musicians who will be doing [Network tours] later, and I guess it is very important.”

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Originally Published

Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins has covered jazz artists, performances, and the jazz infrastructure since his early-’70s undergrad days writing for The Black Watch student newspaper at Kent State University. Additionally, he has been a jazz broadcaster since 1973— currently programming at WPFW in Washington, D.C.—and a jazz concerts and festivals presenter since 1978. He currently serves as artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival and artistic director of jazz programming at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (NYC). A founding member of the Jazz Journalists Association, he is also a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement award.