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Roy Haynes: Love Letters (2003)

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Roy Haynes: Love Letters No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

At 77, Roy Haynes is agile, active and still draws a stellar cast of musicians. Those represented on this recording span a generation, and each one endows the music with his own vivid imprint. The division between the players as partners in the adventure of music draws on their strengths and their pliability within the working environ. The chemistry gets going, bonds are forged and a song is given a whole new dynamic. The end result is a veritable feast for the senses.

Guitarist John Scofield settles comfortably in the mainstream as he gets into "That Old Feeling," his notes falling in gentle beauty before Dave Holland come in speaking his own language and turning down the tempo slightly. Scofield comes back, picking up the sway with straight ahead explorations before handing things over to Kikoski. Here is a pianist who is completely focused, his playing without fuss yet chockfull of endearing ideas. Haynes, Holland and Scofield etch quite a different picture on "Afro Blue." Scofield spins rhythmic complexities that are invigorated by Holland. The momentum builds and when the tune has been fully essayed, the experience is riveting.

Kenny Barron is an elegant and eloquent pianist. He is perfectly cast in the mould, scintillating in the denouement of "The Best Thing For You," with Redman essaying a liquid tenor study in shaded dynamics. The trade-offs between the two on "My Shining Hour" are something to yearn for; McBride, who opens in harmonic closeness on the arco with Redman, gets his say with a lyrical essay in the synthesis of time. Haynes has it all to himself on the last track. His use of timbre, his shading, the accents forge his vision. His control, now as ever, is absolute.

Track Listing: The Best Thing For You; That Old Feeling; Afro Blue; Que Pasa?; How Deep Is The Ocean; Love Letters; My Shining Hour; Stompin' At The Savoy; Shades Of Senegal 2.

Personnel: Roy Haynes: drums; Kenny Barron: piano (1, 4, 5, 7); Dave Holland: bass (2, 3, 6, 8); Dave Kikoski: piano (2, 8); Christian McBride: bass (1, 4, 5, 7); Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 7); John Scofield: guitar (2, 3, 6, 8).

Record Label: Eighty-Eights

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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