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Artist Profile: Drummer Roy Haynes


Jazz Drummer Roy Haynes
Courtesy of Dreyfus Records


March 13th, 1925 in Boston, Massachusetts

Quintessential Jazz Drummer:

In his seven decades of performing, Roy Haynes has established himself as the quintessential jazz drummer. He has played with virtually all of the most notable jazz musicians, and has been at involved in some of the biggest transitions in the history of jazz. His light, expressive style has fit a multitude of musical circumstances, from the swing of Lester Young, the bebop of Charlie Parker, the raucousness of John Coltrane, to the modern jazz innovations of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny.

Swing to Bebop:

Born in the Roxbury section of Boston, Roy Haynes was introduced to music in the church, where his father was an organist. He began playing local gigs when he was 20, and in 1947 he joined saxophonist Lester Young’s band. Young’s distinctive tone and melodic improvisational approach was a heavy influence on Charlie Parker, with whom Haynes began to play when Parker was developing bebop in the late 1940s.

A Friend to Innovation:

Being the top call drummer for jazz musicians who sought to create forward-thinking music became a trend in Haynes’ career. In the 1950s he worked with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. In the 1960s, Haynes substituted for Elvin Jones in John Coltrane’s quartet. He also worked with Lennie Tristano and Stan Getz, among other musicians who presented alternatives to bebop.

Living Legend:

Haynes’ adaptability and sparse style has made him one of the most recorded artists in jazz. Now in his 80s, he continues to perform with top musicians young and old. In September of 2007, he performed with saxophone legend Sonny Rollins and bassist Christian McBride at Carnegie Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rollins’ debut there in 1957. His latest release, A Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story, is a three-CD box set that chronicles the drummer’s storied career.
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