Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Dinah Washington, Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell, David Lee Roth, Fats Navarro, Tadd Dameron, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown, Sarah Vaughan, Phil Woods, Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Art Blakey, Jaki Byard, Ray Charles, Oliver Nelson, Tommy Flanagan, Lee Konitz, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Etta Jones, Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Jimmy Smith, Gary Burton, Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Fergie, Hank Jones, Archie Shepp, Michel Petrucciani, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, Count Basie, Art Farmer, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Gato Barbieri, Anita O’Day, Johhny Griffin, Shirley Scott, Art Pepper, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley.
Roy Haynes has played with all but two of these people.
It’s not going too far out on a limb to say that Haynes is the best accompanist that jazz drumming has ever seen. There’s even a strong argument to be made that he is the best jazz drummer for TIME IMMEMORIAL. I will now hastily make that argument on the internet.
Now, I know that not everyone is familiar with the criteria of how to judge a jazz drummer so I want to use an analogy that we can all relate to: Competitive Eating. What does it mean to be a Great competitive eater? And what separates the Great from the merely accomplished? Answer: unending adaptability. Adaptability goes hand in hand with creativity and begets longevity. Greatness exists because of the development of technique yet is paradoxically the opposite of specialized technique. For example, your name is Steve Keiner and you were on top of the world in 1999 as the winner of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. You were the shit. But you know what? NO ONE REMEMBERS ANYMORE, bccause even though you were very good at eating hot dogs, you ONLY ate hot dogs. Now, take this guy Takeru Kobayashi. He’s does it all. He competitively eats hot dogs, hamburgers, vegetarian jiaozi dumplings, roasted pork buns, bratwurst, lobster rolls, cow brains and yes, even Pizza Hut P’Zones. It doesn’t matter that he once lost to a bear, he’s the Greatest.
Roy Haynes = Takeru Kobayashi. End of argument!
A few things to listen to: Haynes barely hits the kick drum [even when soloing and hitting his crash cymbal], giving Paul Chambers almost complete freedom with the bass register. The groove througout the record is totally fluid and unified and the chemistry of the trio is even more remarkable when taking into account that the whole record was completed in just one session. Despite all the praise for Haynes, Phineas Newborn nearly steals the show here. He comes from the Bud Powell / Art Tatum / Oscar Peterson school and can definitely be considered an equal of those peers. Unfortunately, his career was not as long and distinguished as those players and has remained in relative obscurity [oddly, both he and Powell had stints in mental health hospitals which drastically affected the quality of their playing]. Newborn claims the only original song on the album with “Sugar Ray,” dedicated to Sugar Ray Leonard; the rest are a borrowed mix of mid-tempo bebop and slow blues. The soloing by all players is constantly inspired and jaw-dropping in its grace and skill, and the accompaniment by all three is always thoroughly selfless. Gotta say, it’s not my favorite Roy Haynes trio record, but it’s an essential one.