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Roy Haynes: ROY-alty

Jeff Tamarkin reviews the latest from the iconic 86-year-old drummer

Roy Haynes at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival

You could spend the rest of your days trying to come up with superlatives to describe 86-year-old Roy Haynes, whose résumé virtually doubles as a potted guide to post-war jazz. But while you’d be looking back at all he’s done, Haynes is still firmly planted in the present, a point brought home by the fact that he calls his group the Fountain of Youth Band.

That’s not to imply that the cleverly titled ROY-alty (did it really take this long for him to use that one?) is some kind of hip-hop/jazz hybrid bursting with electronics or any other deliberate attempt to be über-contempo. Haynes doesn’t need that. Instead, the album falls squarely into a well-defined postbop box, and therein Haynes is sharp enough to allow his much younger crew-bassist David Wong, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and pianist Martin Bejerano-to direct the proceedings as often as he calls the shots himself. ROY-alty isn’t so much a showcase for the drummer as the new recording by an exceptional band that just happens to have one of the all-time sticksmen keeping time.

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