Other Places: Roy Haynes, “I Don’t Analyze It.”

One night in the early 1970s when the Half Note of blessed memory was still in downtown Manhattan and had yet to develop midtown pretensions, Roy Haynes was playing drums with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. Dave Frishberg was the pianist. I think the bassist was Victor Sproles. In the closing tune of a late set, Haynes played a ferocious solo that went on for 20 minutes and was too short. The patrons and the other musicians were spellbound by the intricacy, control and rhythmic wit of his playing. Soaked and smiling, to a roar of approval Haynes came down off the stand behind the bar.

As he walked over to my stool, I asked, “Feel better?”

Haynes locked eyes with me and said, emphatically, “I felt good to start with.”

At 87, touring with a quartet of musicians less than half his age, he still feels good. As indicated in this Rifftides post from February, his inventiveness, power, drive and affirmativeness are undiminished. Here he is last year at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain. Haynes, David Kikoski and bassist John Patitucci play McCoy Tyner’s “Blues on the Corner.”

This week, Jesse Hamlin of The San Francisco Chronicle talked with Haynes. Here are a couple of sections from Hamlin’s column.

“When you’re a serious artist, you don’t think about how old you are,” he says “We all become the same age on the bandstand.”

Equally effective playing with avant-garde guys such as Eric Dolphy or jazz crooner Etta Jones, Haynes is a fluid and original musician who doesn’t try to explain what he does or how he found his voice.

“I don’t analyze it. I just keep playing,” says Haynes…

To read all of Hamlin’s story, go here.

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  1. says

    When I was in the Army in 1948, I went to a Baltimore jazz club to hear Lester Young’s quintet, and first heard Roy Haynes on drums, sounding great. In 1950, when I moved from Seattle to New York, I went down to Birdland to hear Charlie Parker’s quintet, and there was Roy Haynes on drums, sounding great. In 1952, when I was hired for a week in Boston with Stan Getz, I arrived at the Hi Hat and found Roy Haynes on drums, sounding great. He had a loose, modern way of playing way back then, and I learned a lot from that chance to play with him. He’s still one of the best.