Roy Haynes is 83. Of course, that’s in Roy years. He’s about 43 in regular people years. How else can you explain this legendary octogenarian’s energy? This cat plays his ass off. But even more impressive, he makes the kids in his Fountain of Youth band play their asses off. If you’re looking for labels, the music they play is hard bop and post bop — which means that it’s equal parts hard grooving, wild soloing, and non-retro edge, with plenty of space for the band to cook. Alto player Jaleel Shaw’s sound is NYC hard, so that even his gorgeous ballad passages have a diamond edge (think Jackie McLean). And Haynes demands and gets maximum dynamics out of pianist Martin Bejerano and just the right notes from bassist David Wong. Readers leery of paying big bucks for nostalgia, with dear old cats who ain’t what they used to be, should listen to Whereas, Roy’s live release from 2006. You’ll think you’re hearing tracks from the ’60s, rather than Roy Haynes, 81 years young.
So it utterly mystifies all us here at the L.A. Weekly jazz bureau why the hell the house ain’t packed to the rafters when Roy Haynes is in town. As illustrated in his A Life in Timecd/dvd box set (on Dreyfus), Haynes is a living, breathing, playing, still-creative history of postwar jazz. Not only has he led some great sessions, but the man played with Monk (take Mysterioso) and subbed for Elvin Jones in Trane’s quintet (check out the bombs he’s dropping on “My Favorite Things” on Newport ’63) and with Monk with Trane (At the Five Spot) and, oh man, Lester Young and Charlie Parker and Bud Powell and Fats Navarro and Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy (Out There) and Sarah Vaughan and everybody else (including last month with Phish; and see if you can find the clip of him with the Allman Brothers on “Afro Blue”). He’s all over that record collection of yours, tucked away in the credits and bashing and skittering and k-kicking, brushing and hinting, placing stunning rhythm intricacies here and perfect empty spaces there, driving and swinging and bloozing and dancing across that kit. A pure bebop drummer. And live he spins stories and cracks wise and is a first rate showman. You really have to see Roy Haynes.
And as for other things. Our own legend Ernie Andrews highlights Playboy’s free festival in the park at Warner Center in Woodland Hills on Sunday (1-8 p.m.), which includes acts like the eclectically groovy B-Side Players and songstress Raya Yarbrough (whose self-titled debut on Telarc is full of strong original material). Also on Sunday (at 7 p.m.) radical guitarist Tom NcNalley’s trio and Orange County free jazzers The Crepuscule Trio are at the Eagle Rock Center For the Arts. Or get downtown to California Plaza by 8 p.m. for the star-studded Miles From India Ensemble (www.grandperformances.org). Their album still needs a little more listening, but odds are that when Ron Carter and Wallace Roney and Ndugu and the rest of the jazzmen get together with a their Indian musician cohorts, very nice things will happen. Over at the Jazz Bakery, the NYC vibist Steve Nelson finishes up Friday and Saturday with a nice crew including bassist John Clayton, pianist Mulgrew Miller and great young tenor Kamasi Washington; while pianist Cedar Walton begins his four-night stand on Wednesday, with a fine quartet including drummer Lewis Nash and very fine alto Vincent Herring. And on Wednesday, drummer Tony Inzalaco’s quintet (with the great lineup of trumpeter Nolan Shaheed, saxist Benn Clatworthy, pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Chris Colangelo) play pure hard bop at Charlie O’s.
Finally, the Jack Sheldon documentary Trying to Get Good begins a May 30-June 19 run at the Westwood Crest Theater (1282 Westwood Blvd., south of Wilshire; validated parking on Glendon). A jazz film at a real-live movie theater is amazing in itself, and this one is an excellent look at the man’s music and wild, tragicomic life (playing for change on the street!). Essential jazz viewing. And a helluva lot better than 99 percent of the flicks playing across town.
(Brick can be reached at email@example.com.)