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Roy Haynes’ Beat Is As Strong, And Surprising, As Ever

Roy Haynes at Newport in 2009.    (AP/Joe Giblin)

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It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to see someone who performed with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Sarah, Ella, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny. Roy Haynes has played with people from all walks of jazz and at 88 years old, he’s still performing and recording, this time with a new generation of players.

On May 23 and 24, the legendary drummer will be at Scullers Jazz Club with his Fountain of Youth quartet. It’s a coming home, of sorts, as Haynes was Roxbury born and raised and as a teenager, he got his first gigs at Boston clubs before making it nationally, and internationally.

The name of Haynes’ current quartet doesn’t just refer to its members — alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Martin Bejerano, and bassist David Wong. The name is also intended to apply to Haynes himself. He says, “The fountain of youth with the youthful young musician is one meaning, and the fountain of youth with the youthful energy of the leader is another meaning.” When you see Haynes, you’ll get the idea. His wardrobe is full of flashy items like shades and sparkly jackets, but it’s his energy that’s really astonishing. When he saunters on stage and sits down at the drumset, he’ll play with the power and animation of a 28-year-old.

Haynes’ most recent CD, “Roy-alty” features this youthful sound. He has a way of breaking up the time, surprising you at every beat. The way he combines different timbres on the drum set is one of the reasons he earned his longtime nickname “Snap Crackle.” On “Roy-alty” the drums jump out at the listener. It’s almost as if the soloists are simultaneously soloing with the drums. Haynes’ responses are that quick. He’s leading his musicians through a constant stream of excitement, not just laying down the beat but constantly continuing their phrases and feeding them new ideas. Powerhouses Chick Corea and Roy Hargrove joined the Fountain of Youth quartet on select tracks

It will just be the quartet at Scullers, but they’re pretty high voltage themselves. Here’s the quartet playing Thelonious Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle.”

When asked what advice he gives to his grandson, drummer Marcus Gilmore, Haynes says “I listen to him.” Here’s some similar advice regarding Haynes: listen to him!

Claire Dickson is a 16-year-old jazz vocalist. She has received six Downbeat Student Music awards and is a 2013 National YoungArts Foundation honorable mention winner. Her website is clairedicksonmusic.com.

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