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Live Reviews

Ottawa Jazz Festival Day 9: June 29, 2007

By Published: July 1, 2007
Roy Haynes

Speaking of mentoring, drummer Roy Haynes, now 82, has surrounded himself with a group of musicians, none of whom can be older than their early thirties. But it's Haynes' decades of experience—a legend in jazz who's worked with everyone from past elder jazz statesman, including Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell to current icons like Chick Corea and Pat Metheny—and the lessons learned that may well turn saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Martin Bejeramo and bassist David Wong into potential stars of tomorrow.

Roy Haynes

Haynes has lost none of his power, elasticity and listening skills, and while it's impressive that someone his age can still play with this kind of energy and commitment, if assessing Savage's performance earlier in the day based on his young age is wrong, then neither should Haynes' performance be evaluated in the context of his advanced years. Whether he was 22 or 82, Haynes put on a performance that may well be the most memorable show of the 2007 OIJF.

While Haynes' consistently inventive drumming was the engine that drove his quartet, keeping him in the frontline at all times, he spent few actual moments in the spotlight, delivering his first of only two solos of the ninety-minute set an hour in. With a set list reflective of his experience and commitment to remaining thoroughly modern, he performed well-known jazz and pop standards but with updated twists: Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing," the Arlen/Mercer classic, "My Shining Hour," and an absolutely exhilarating version of Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," which entered Coltrane territory, with Shaw and Bejeramo delivering thrilling solos while Haynes carried the torch for the late Elvin Jones yet always sounding like nobody but himself.

Haynes also rearranged two Metheny tunes—the title track from Question and Answer (Geffen, 1990), on which the guitarist performed with bassist Dave Holland, and "James," a popular song from Metheny's Offramp (ECM, 1982). Retaining the essential lyricism of both tunes, Haynes made their familiar themes more emphatically rhythmic but, with "Question and Answer" in particular, opened them up into lengthy features for his band mates.

Early in the set Haynes stepped up to the microphone while some minor technical snags with the monitors were being worked out. When he mentioned his experiences in the 1940s to a round of applause, he asked the audience why they were applauding, and one member said "the '40s was the time for music." Haynes came right back, quoting Charlie Parker: "Now's the time." True words from an artist who could easily rest on his laurels but believes that the only way to keep the music alive is to keep moving it forward.

Roy Haynes
l:r: Martin Berjeramo, Jaleel Shaw, David Wong, Roy Haynes

As impressive as his quartet was—Shaw consistently pushing the limits of the mainstream, Berjeramo running the gamut from quirky and idiosyncratic on the Monk tune to more outside modality on "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and Wong a bassist with the suppleness and groove of Dave Holland but his own approach to melodism on the instrument—it was the collective interplay, with everyone feeding off the dynamic mix of energy and ideas—that made Haynes' performance so invigorating and meaningful. Expectations for this show were high, and Haynes delivered, giving the near-capacity crowd everything it had come for, and more.

Tomorrow: Freddy Cole, Matt Wilson Arts & Crafts.

Visit Matt Savage and the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival on the web.

Photo Credit
John Fowler

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