Sunday, December 11, 2011

86 year-old drummer Roy Haynes "Snap, Crackles" at Chicago Symphony Center Jazz

by Dwight Casimere


-Roy Haynes-drums

-Roy Hargrove-Trumpet, Flugelhorn

-Martin Bejerano-Piano

-Jaleel Shaw-Saxophone

-Reginald Robinson-solo pianist/composer and early jazz historian

Roy Haynes “Snap, Crackles” at Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series

It’s easy to see why legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes earned the nickname “Snap, Crackle” from his fellow jazz mates of the 1950s. From the moment he walked onstage at Chicago Symphony Center, his entire body became a rhythm instrument even before he sat behind his drum kit. He was tapping his feet on the hardwood floor, “playing” it as an instrument, before proceeding to apply his sticks to the perimeter of his drums, the stands and the outer edges of his cymbals, before launching into his hard-driving set.

Haynes has been the pulse of modern jazz for nearly 70 years and shows no sign of slowing down. Leading his Fountain of Youth Band, composed of accomplished players nearly half his age, Haynes showed why he was the winner of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. At one point during his wide-ranging hour and a half long set, Haynes stepped back from the drums and broke into another mock tap dance that ended with a leap and a flurry of footwork upon landing. Hardly the work of an octogenarian!

Featuring mostly tunes from his new disc Roy-Alty (Dreyfus Jazz), Haynes, along with Saxophone Jaleel Shaw, Trumpet and Flugelhorn Roy Hargrove, David Wong on Bass and an explosive Martin Bejerano on piano, led a mesmerizing journey through the deepest recesses of his genre. This was modern jazz as seen through the eyes of a seasoned master who is one of its few remaining creators.

Satchmo, Diz, Miles, Trane, Monk, 'Bird-Haynes played with them all. Fortunately, he is one of the few remaining of their esteemed number to survive and continue to tell their story through music.

“Passion Dance,” McCoy Tyner’s signature declarations of the “new jazz standards” best defined and delineated Haynes and his Fountain of Youth. Bejerano brought his own unique flare to the keyboard, mounting inventive runs and arpeggios that rivaled any heard on the Classical stage. He clearly knows his instrument and makes it resound like a full orchestra.

Similarly, Roy Hargrove showed his mastery of the art, playing with depth and clarity, particularly on the Flugelhorn. Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw took the entire proceeding to jazz “church” with a series of roof-raising runs that set the audience on fire. This was modern jazz at its finest. Hearing it in the august setting of Symphony Center under ideal acoustical conditions gave it the context and the respect that it deserved.

Chicago-born pianist/composer and historian Reginald Robinson, a product of the South Side, kicked off the evening with an intimate view of the creative process, explaining the emotion-laden stories behind each of his piano compositions. His deeply personal music, evoked art songs of a bygone era. Emulating the stride piano and ragtime stylings of Scott Joplin and James P. Johnson, with a side tour to the Habanero/Tango stylings of 1950s Havana, his poignant explanations brought his compositions to life. “I grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. A lot of these songs were written against the backdrop of the sounds of gunfire outside.” Considering the fact that the stories behind his music spoke of unrequited love and longing, Robinson showed, indelibly, the saving grace and spiritual power of music.

The incomparable Dee Dee Bridgewater presents “To Billie With Love: A Celebration of Lady Day, Friday, January 13 at 8pm. For tickets and information, visit

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