Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band
William Paterson University Jazz Room
March 26th, 2011
Looking at Roy Haynes's oeuvre, over his tremendously prolific career, it becomes apparent that simply being awarded one lifetime achievement award from the Grammy committee may not be enough. For most musicians, being involved in just one of the amazingly diverse musical scenarios in which Haynes has taken partwhether it's Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Andrew Hill, Pat Metheny or Chick Coreawould account for a lifetime's worth of work. Indeed, it seems like the only role that Haynes has not taken, in his nearly 70 years of performing, is that of a retired jazz musician. Haynes's current band, featuring the impressive roster of saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, bassist David Wong and pianist Martin Bejerano, is aptly named the Fountain of Youth Band.
As is the tradition of the William Paterson Jazz Room Series, the program was opened by one of the many student groups at WPU. This group, in particular, led by WPU artistic director Mulgrew Miller, paid tribute to another living legend of jazz, Ornette Coleman, and the late, unsung hero Dewey Redman. In an unusual twist to the typical free jazz format, they utilized not one, but two chordal instruments: North Carolina pianist Chris Pattishall and a student who has already established a name for himself through his involvement with Greg Osby,' New Jersey vibraphonist Michael Pinto. The group intricately and magnificently explored the ins and outs of Coleman and Redman's music, the free jazz setting allowing for maximum personal expression, while requiring the utmost situational awareness.
Michigan-born saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis incorporated Coleman's expressive, sharp-edged alto sound, but rounded the edges to give it a warmer, woody quality. His solos had innate leadership qualities, his cascading melodic lines leading the band in and out of time and tonal center with an advanced melodic sense and a matured control of the alto saxophone. Pinto's solo on Redman's "Love Is" coupled romantic ballad sensibilities with a classical sense of harmonic invention, using his broad color palette to assertivelybut not aggressivelymove into the realm of the free. Bassist Adrian Moring displayed knowledge and maturity far beyond his years, embracing scratchy, right-against-the-bridge textures on Charlie Haden's "Song for the Whales," and a compositionally brilliant solo on Coleman's "Police People." Pattishall was given a prime opportunity to explore his entire repertoire on the breakdown of Coleman's "Tears Inside," which toggled like a radio dial through blues licks, thick block harmony and a sincere, learned stride piano style that sped up and slowed down at will. Nagoya, Japan native Ryo Noritakea drummer who, throughout, had deftly navigated and supported the freedom of the grouptook his solo opportunity in Coleman's "Happy House," mixing up the raw styles and colors of Paul Motian and Billy Higgins, with a story-like organization of rhythmic ideas.
When Haynes's band took the stage, he immediately took the opportunity to show off his stellar cast, with each member playing a mostly unaccompanied solo. Wong displayed his formidable touch, with flowing, pianistic lines that strongly outlined an original harmony. Bejerano chose an arrangement of pointillist, floral piano clusters, while Shaw chose a more linear opening. Haynes, who had been punctuating the intros with drum hits, launched into a solo marked timbral exclamation points, as he briefly dipped into funk, swing and the rumbles of his former contemporaries, Max Roach and Art Blakey.
Haynes's drumming settled into an interesting and remarkable style. He seemed to neither keep time nor completely abandon it. His drumming mimicked the occasions when a drummer will begin to imply polyrhythms or break down the beat to mark intensity, except what made it unique was that these moments happened almost constantly. Shaw's solo on "My Shining Hour" had a bebop foundation, with unflinching shifts into wilder harmonic territory, brandishing sheets of sound like the waving of a flaming torch. Bejarano smartly counteracted, favoring a simple melodic touch that occasionally moved into Shaw's newly broken harmonic ground. Wong further expanded on what he showcased in the beginning of the set, his bouncy touch firmly landing on the low register of his bass.