It’s obvious why the Jazz Showcase has booked Roy Haynes to open its annual Charlie Parker Month: one of a mere handful of surviving Parker sidemen, Haynes drummed for the legendary saxist in the early 50s, helping to solidify the bop percussion style pioneered by his predecessors Kenny Clarke and Max Roach. But it goes even deeper than that: In the late 40s Haynes played in a band led by Lester Young, the swing-era saxophonist whose liberated phrasing and iconoclastic harmonies had inspired Parker in his teens. And in the 60s he served as the first-call substitute drummer for the quartet led by John Coltrane–who’d built on Parker’s harmonic ingenuity and voluptuous technique to arrive at his own famous “sheets of sound.” Haynes is the only musician to have worked in a regular group with each of these three innovative saxophonists, whose collective body of work from the 30s through the 60s has established Parker as the linchpin of one of the most intriguing artistic lineages of the 20th century. The fact that Haynes made vital contributions in every case reveals not only his command of idioms spanning decades of jazz history, but also his ability to adapt his potentially overwhelming virtuosity to the demands of a particular band. In the 70s he led an especially sensitive fusion group, and in the 90s attracted collaborators from later generations, notably Pat Metheny and Danilo Perez; though many younger players revere Haynes as a jazz elder, his feistiness and resilience discourage them from slowing down for his benefit. Now 75, he still relies on explosive fills, crisp cymbal colors, and imaginative permutations of the beat–but those technical elements only sketch an outline of his style. At his best, he transcends science to create something like magic. He’s recently replaced his long-standing quartet, which featured pianist David Kikoski, and none of the new names rings a bell with me. But Haynes doesn’t suffer fools gladly–or at all, really–so I’m still hoping for the best. Tuesday through Thursday, July 31 through August 2, 8 and 10 PM, Friday and Saturday, August 3 and 4, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, August 5, 4 and 8 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.