Saturday, March 15, 2008

Roy Haynes - A Life in Jazz (Dryfus, 2007)

This well designed collection, consisting of three compact discs and one DVD, provides an excellent overview of drummer Roy Haynes' extraordinarily productive career as both a leader and a sideman. The musicians on this collection are a veritable who's who of modern postwar jazz. The Penguin Guide to Jazz once postulated that it was possible to write a history of post-war jazz from the perspective of Miles Davis. As true as this is, it's even more so for Haynes, who has performed with swing era luminaries like Lester Young and Sarah Vaughan, bop heroes like Charlie Parker, and modernists Eric Dolphy, as well as John and Alice Coltrane. All of the above and many more are represented on this set, with the first two CD's tracking Haynes role as the drummer of choice for any modern session. It's impossible to list highlights (they all are) but Bud Powell's "Bouncin' With Bud, and Thelonious Monk's "Rythym a Ning" show Haynes simpatico relationship with pianists, which would continue into recent times with Chick Corea. Haynes has no trouble fitting into avant garde settings, like Andrew Hill's "Black Fire" or Alice Coltrane's amazing organ workout "Transformation." Disc three contains his most recent work, with Pat Metheny on "James" or his music as leacer of the bop centered Fountain of Youth Band. The enclosed DVD has some snippets of performance and interview sequences. All in all, this set makes the case for Roy Haynes being one of the most significant jazz musicians of the past 60 years. Dryfus has done a very good job with this career spanning collection, licensing music from several labels and designing a very classy package with well written liner notes included. This fine collection is recommended without reservation for any fan of modern jazz.

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