Roy Haynes and The Fountain of Youth Band
July 25, 2008
On Friday, July 25th Roy Haynes and The Fountain of Youth Band played to an enthusiastic crowed at Boston's own Scullers Jazz Club. It was hard to believe that Haynes, who recently won Down Beat's 2008 Critics Poll award for drummer of the year, is 83 years old. His spirit, energy, and seasoned leadership continue to drive the quartet with an uncommon youthful joyfulness. This particular lineup is somewhat recent, with bassist David Wong replacing John Sullivan and alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw taking the frontline, originally manned by tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland. Still on piano is Martin Bejerano, who has been with Haynes for almost 8 years now.
Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves" kicked off the evening as an engaging conversational piece. The first several choruses were played as a series of trading bars. Haynes used brushesnot simply to keep time but instead to punctuate phrases with heavy accents on snare and bass drum alike. The forceful brush playing launched Shaw's climbing alto solo and worked equally well behind Martin Bejerano's tasteful piano playing.
Two songs in particular have been a part of the bands repertoire for several yearsHaynes' 6/8 Afro- Cuban arrangement of Cole Porter"s "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," and the classic Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays tune "James." "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is an exciting piece for musicians and audience members alike, as Mr. Haynes typically leaves room at the end to directly engage the audience. Friday night, as the melody faded away, the drummer continued the bembe 6/8-groove on his sticks. With the hypnotic bass line still fresh in listeners' minds, he proceeded to tap his sticks directly into the microphone.
Haynes likes to introduce "James" with a drum solo, and Friday night was no exception. What began with mallets crashing over the toms and cymbals escalated into a full roar with sticks. Shaw could be seen grinning from the side of the drums as he listened with complete intensity and reverence. In the tradition of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Roy Haynes is effectively schooling a new generation of players. Pianist Martin Bejerano remarked to the audience, "I have been playing with Roy for almost 8 years, and it just gets better and better. I am so lucky to be up here with him."
The first set included a total of six songs; however, after "James," Mr. Haynes took the microphone and within minutes had the audience rolling with laughter. He is equally entertaining behind the mic as he is behind the drums. "I'm from Boston originally," he told the audience. "In the summer of 1945 I was working in Martha's Vineyard. I got a call to come to New York but had to stay until after Labor Day weekend to finish my commitment. I have been living in Manhattan ever since, and every day is like Thanksgiving." Haynes then proceeded to encourage each band member to talk to the audience and share a story. We learned how each member has come to be part of the current lineup, including how Jaleel Shaw, then a student at Berklee in Boston, first sat in with Haynes in the year 2000.
In 2007 Dreyfus Records released the 4-disc box set, "A Life In TimeThe Roy Haynes Story." Drawing from music that spans some 60+ years, the collection features Haynes from his early recordings as a sideman with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk. It concludes with selections from his more recent work as a leader. On the inside box stands the quote, "There are moments when I feel inspired as I did when I was in my 20's." Friday night was one such moment. Long live Snap Crackle!