Jazz preview: Roy Haynes finds Fountain of Youth in his jazz band
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As someone who's been on the national jazz scene since the 1940s, drummer Roy Haynes likely has played Pittsburgh clubs a number of times.
"I'm sure I have, [but] don't ask me the name of them now," he chuckles.
He certainly can be forgiven for not remembering. Mr. Haynes, now 87 but still going strong, Saturday brings his latest ensemble, the Fountain of Youth band, to the New Hazlett Theater as the second in the Kente Arts Alliance's Jazz ROYalty Series -- so named because the featured artists all have the first name Roy.
"I must be a great artist to be this age" and still performing, Mr. Haynes says. "I'm an old-time player who plays modern music."
Mr. Haynes, a Boston native, got his big break while still in his teens.
Bandleader Lewis Russell had heard about him and sent a special delivery message to the musicians union in Boston to have Mr. Russell come to New York, Mr. Haynes says. That would eventually lead to stints with King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, both of whom also had played with Mr. Russell.
Over the decades he's been a part of such seminal recordings as Oliver Nelson's 1961 album "The Blues and the Abstract Truth," which features the now-standard "Stolen Moments," and has shared the stage with Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
Last year he released his latest album as a leader, "Roy-Alty," and received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award.
The Fountain of Youth band also comprises pianist Martin Bejerano, bassist David Wong and saxophonist/flutist Jaleel Shaw. Although his musicians are considerably younger than he, Mr. Haynes doesn't consider himself the elder statesman.
"When we go on stage we become the same age," he says. "We don't get into that."
That said, perhaps making music is a fountain of youth for him.
"I've played with some of the great people of this music," Mr. Haynes says. "It feels good to [still] be active."
First Published September 21, 2012 12:00 am