How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Roy Haynes' Fountain of Youth Quartet is exactly what it claims to be: young and vibrant. In one of the last true breeding grounds for young musicians a la Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Haynes has made it his purpose to give younger talent a chance to show itself. And what better setting to develop one's talent than playing with a master who has been at the forefront of jazz for the past six decades?
Whereas, Haynes and the quartet's new live release, showcases the band for exactly what it is: a breeding ground. Fiery playing is present throughout the set of mostly standards, much of it coming from the leader himself. And Haynes' style is unique as ever, providing a consistent backbone for what is often quite exploratory music. What you won't hear here, however, is polished playing. The appeal of this set is in its rawness; the recording perfectly captures the live sound of the quartet. But the players are still developing, and you don't hear many of those "perfect notes that are the result of supreme improvisation.
Though an octogenarian, the ageless Haynes is as energetic as ever, at times overshadowing the equally energetic playing of his bandmates. At the end of a recent show I attended, the drummer remarked, "Playing for you guys is my therapy. "Hippidy Hop is Haynes' showcase, a brilliantly improvised drum solo that captivates the listener.
The rest of the quartet consists of saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, pianist Robert Rodriguez and bassist John Sullivan. Shaw has a very upbeat style and tone, performing particularly well on ballads like Pat Metheny's "James. Rodriguez's brilliant comping style is in evidence throughout the entire show, driving both Haynes and Shaw into unexplored territory. And Sullivan plays masterfully throughout, his full tone adding a unique voice to the mix.
The set consists of standards by names like Coltrane, Corea, Parker, Monk, Porter and Henderson, each brilliantly arranged by Haynes. What this band lacks in polish, it more than makes up for in raw energy and excitement, making Whereas a worthwhile listen. This highly recommended record also serves as the perfect introduction to what the Fountain of Youth Quartet is all about.
Track Listing: Mr. P.C.; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; Like This; Hippidy Hop (Drum Solo); James; Bemsha
Swing/True or False; Inner Urge; Segment.
Personnel: Roy Haynes: drums; Jaleel Shaw: saxophones; Robert Rodriguez: piano; John Sullivan: bass.