Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Haynes, Roy (Owen)

Drummer Roy Haynes has sat at the helm of jazz for more than sixty years. Like his early idol Jo Jones, Haynes's expressive yet non-technical style makes him a performer's favorite. He has shared the stage with - to name a few - Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Chick Corea. His signature snap-crackling snare has graced so many recordings that his discography stands as a kind of self-contained history of modern jazz.

Gustavus and Edna Haynes welcomed the third of their four children, Roy Owen, into the world on March 13, 1925, in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Gustavus was an employee of Standard Oil and an automobile enthusiast, an interest Roy later developed.

Gustavus also played the organ and sang at churches in both his native Barbados and Roxbury. Edna, too, was churchgoing woman who only allowed religious music in the house on Sundays. As with so many twentieth-century American musicians, it was this early exposure to music through the church which laid the groundwork for Roy's later development as a musician.

Haynes's early interest in jazz developed in large part from the influence of his older brother, Douglas. A jazz record collector who worked as a roadie for Blanche Calloway in the 1930s, Douglas introduced Roy to the jazz world, playing records and supplying him with his first pair of drumsticks. Douglas even introduced the teenaged Roy to Jo Jones, who quickly became his primary drum influence. To this day, Haynes still references Jones's drumming on the Count Basie record "The World is Mad" as a career defining listening experience.

Haynes performed in all of the school bands while at James P. Timilty Junior High School. Outside of school, Haynes briefly studied the drumming rudiments with Herbie Wright, James Reese Europe's former drummer. Haynes was also mentored by Bobby Donaldson, a neighbor and prominent local drummer who had played with Andy Kirk, Benny Goodman and Curtis Fuller.

As Haynes began his high school years, he had already established a reputation as an up-and-coming drummer with an innate musical instinct and natural feel. Among his early gigs around the Boston area were stints with singer Mabel Robinson, trumpeter Frankie Newton, and altoist Pete Brown.

In early 1944, Haynes was recommended to join Sabby Lewis's big band, and then took a gig with Phil Edmonds (a.k.a. Felix Barbosa) in the summer of the same year. After a year with Edmonds, Haynes received his first big break - the following invitation to join the big band of pianist Luis Russell.

Dear Roy, I gave my present drummer two weeks notice and would like you to join the band September 12. I'm playing at the McKinley Theater in the Bronx. After that we enter the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Union scale is $55 but I will pay you $70. Please notify me as soon as possible so I can arrange your transportation. Sincerely Luis Russell, 1945.

Haynes accepted the gig, and was on his way to New York to debut at the Savoy Ballroom at the age of 20. Upon his relocation to New York, Haynes began an unprecedented run of performances and recordings with nearly all of the bebop greats.

Though clearly influenced by Jo Jones, Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, Haynes has insisted that his personal style was achieved by allowing technical and rudimental skill to take a backseat to instinctual, natural rhythms. Haynes therefore provided interactive musical freedoms not yet achieved on the bandstand.

While he was blurring barlines and breaking rhythms like Clarke and Roach, Haynes was also daringly altering the standard ride pattern, placing his hi-hat foot in various spaces, and experimenting with brand new sticking combinations that would soon become signature fills. As fellow drumming great Billy Hart once suggested in an interview with Sam Stephenson for the Smithsonian Magazine, "Roy may have been the first avant-garde jazz musician, in terms of his freedom with the rhythms. He was so far in the future, way ahead of his time, but he was natural and traditionally grounded too."

From 1945 to 1947, Haynes played with Russell's big band while participating in a wide array of bop jam sessions in New York. In October 1947, Haynes joined Lester Young's band, performing with Young and Billie Holiday at New York's Town Hall during his first week on the job. Haynes remained with Young for two years, gaining essential small-group experience. He can be heard on The Complete Aladdin Sessions and Live at the Royal Roost, two significant Young recordings.

Now atop the list of New York's first-call bop drummers, Haynes played with Miles Davis, Kai Winding, Milt Jackson, and Wardell Grey as his tenure with Young concluded. In August 1949, Haynes recorded with Sonny Rollins and Fats Navarro on a Bud Powell-led session, The Amazing Bud Powell, Volumes One and Two. "Wail" is a highlight from this all-star session.

In the fall of 1949, while playing a run of gigs at the Orchid Room with Bud Powell and Sonny Stitt, Haynes was invited to replace Max Roach in Charlie Parker's quartet. Haynes played with Parker from the fall of 1949 until 1953, and if he had not reached the apex of jazz interaction during his years with Lester Young, he had surely done so by collaborating with Parker. "I Get a Kick Out of You," from the studio date Charlie Parker Plays Cole Porter, presents the steadiest late-Parker group, of Parker, Haynes, pianist Walter Bishop and bassist Teddy Kotick.

While Haynes recorded as a sideman and a leader after his tenure with Parker, he spent the next five years, until 1958, touring the world with jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan. While Haynes speaks quite fondly of Vaughan's remarkable musicality, he was also drawn to the safety and security of the Vaughan gig after the occasional chaos that ensued while working with the drug-addled Parker.

His years with Vaughan allowed him the financial security to comfortably raise a family while working as a jazz drummer. Roy Haynes married Jessie Lee Nevels in 1957 and had three children, Craig, Leslie and Graham. Haynes's extended run with Sarah Vaughan offered him a stable environment of musical sophistication and financial security, with enough left over to satisfy his penchant for multiple automobiles and expensive clothes. Just after his tenure with Vaughan, in 1960 Haynes was named one of the "Forty Best Dressed Men in America" by Esquire magazine!

Haynes left the Vaughan gig with the intention of returning to the New York scene in order to spend more time with his young children. After performing with Phineas Newborn, Jr. at Birdland in April, 1958, Haynes began a run with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot. 'In Walked Bud," a live track captured at the club, features the classic, playful interaction between Haynes and Monk in addition to a carefully composed, ultra-melodic drum solo.

In November of the same year, Haynes released We Three, his first trio date as a leader featuring pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and bassist Paul Chambers. �Reflection� and �Our Delight� are two highlights from this outstanding session.

In the 1960s, Haynes increased his freelance work, opting out of the extended, multi-year runs with performers which had subsumed his early career. Some highlights from this period include �I�m Late, I�m Late� from Stan Getz�s Focus, �Stolen Moments" from Oliver Nelson�s Blues and the Abstract Truth, �Glad to be Unhappy� from Eric Dolphy�s Outward Bound, and �Steps/What Was� from Chick Corea�s Now He Sings, Now He Sobs.

In the mid 1960s, Haynes was also the first-call substitute for Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's "classic" quartet, and recorded with the group on Impressions and Newport, �63. Haynes's cohesive work with Coltrane, Tyner and Garrison can be heard on �Dear Old Stockholm� and �I Want to Talk About You.�

In the late 1960s, Haynes started his own group, the Hip Ensemble, which he maintained throughout the 1970s. The band included, among others, George Adams on tenor saxophone, Charles Sullivan or Marvin �Hannibal� Peterson on trumpet, Carl Schroeder on piano, Mervin Bronson or Don Pate on bass, occasionally Roland Prince on guitar, and Elwood Johnson and Lawrence Killan on percussion. The group featured both straight-ahead jazz and more amusing straight-eighth fusion numbers featuring electric bass, percussion, and synthesizers. Some of the Hip Ensemble's recordings are The Hip Ensemble from 1971, Equipoise from 1972, and Senyah in 1973.

Aside from his work with the Hip Ensemble, Haynes also performed and recorded during this period with Illinois Jacquet, Duke Jordan, Art Pepper, Ted Curson, Nick Brignola, Gary Burton and Stanley Cowell. Haynes was doing it all in the New York City jazz world for the third straight decade, and he was still a young man.

As the 1980s emerged, Haynes entered into a semi-retirement, lessening the sustained, blistering pace with which he recorded since the late 1940s. He made some important exceptions, most notably reuniting with Chick Corea and Miroslav Vitous, another veteran of the Now He Sobs session, in a group entitled �Trio Music.� The band recorded Trio Music in 1981, followed by Trio Music, Live in Europe, recorded in 1984.

The early to mid-1990s saw an increase in Haynes-led recordings. In 1992, he released two records, Homecoming and When it Haynes, it Roars both with of Ed Howard on bass, David Kikoski on piano, and Craig Handy on tenor sax. In 1994, Haynes released My Shining Hour, a concert performance featuring Haynes and bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on bass. The live date coincided with Haynes�s acceptance of the Danish JAZZPAR Award, one of the most prestigious honors in jazz.

In 1999, Haynes recorded and released The Roy Haynes Trio featuring Danilo Perez and John Patitucci, in which half of the album is comprised of studio performances of the trio's fusion of post-bop and latin jazz, while the second half is a live performance captured at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.

All of Roy�s creative milestones, from snare drum sound and cymbal choices, to the breaking and loosening of rhythms, to Jo Jones-influenced hi-hat comping, to unpredictable polyrhythmic soloing are all supremely evident on this recording, to which Modern Drummer magazine gave the highest rating possible and called it one of the finest performances of Haynes�s career. �Bright Mississippi� is a highlight from the live half of this contemporary classic.

In typical Haynes fashion, he continues to tirelessly perform into his eighth decade with his new group, The Fountain of Youth. With two albums released, Fountain of Youth in 2002 with Marcus Strickland on saxophones, Martin Bejerano on piano and John Sullivan on bass, and Whereas from 2006, which features Jaleel Shaw on saxophones, Robert Rodriguez on piano, and John Sullivan on bass, Haynes is teaching jazz musicians two or perhaps three generations younger than him the best way he knows how � by interacting with them on the bandstand.

Roy Haynes is appropriately the first bop drummer whose career has been documented with a comprehensive box set, Life in Time, The Roy Haynes Story, released in 2007. Listening through the stylistic shifts from swing to bop to post-bop tied together by the same unique drumming proves it impossible to de-emphasize the role that Roy Haynes has played in the shaping of modern jazz.

Selected Discography:

As a Leader:

We Three (1958), Just Us (1960), Out of the Afternoon (1962), Cymbalism (1963), Hip Ensemble (1971), Senyah (1973), True or False (1986), Homecoming (1992), My Shining Hour (1994), The Roy Haynes Trio featuring Danilo Perez and John Patitucci (2000), Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker (2001), Love Letters (2003), Fountain of Youth (2004), Whereas (2006), Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story (2007)

Additional Recordings:

The Complete Aladdin Sessions (Lester Young, 1942), Fabulous Fats Navarro, Volume One (Fats Navarro, 1947), Amazing Bud Powell, Volume One (Bud Powell, 1949), Bird at St. Nicks (Charlie Parker, 1950), Conception (Miles Davis, 1951), Charlie Parker at Storyville (Charlie Parker, 1953), Swingin� Easy (Sarah Vaughan, 1954), Complete Sarah Vaughan on Mercury (Sarah Vaughan, 1954-56), Sound of Sonny (Sonny Rollins, 1957), At the Five Spot/Misterioso (Thelonious Monk, 1958), Far Cry (Eric Dolphy Quintet with Booker Little, 1960), Outward Bound (Eric Dolphy, 1960), Blues and the Abstract Truth (Oliver Nelson, 1961), Focus (Stan Getz, 1961), Impressions (John Coltrane, 1961), Black Fire (Andrew Hill, 1963), Newport �63 (John Coltrane, 1963), It�s Time (Jackie McLean, 1964), Country Roads and Other Places (Gary Burton, 1968), Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Chick Corea, 1968), Thembi (Pharoah Sanders, 1970), Live in Japan, Volumes One and Two (Duke Jordan, 1976), Ain�t Misbehavin (Hank Jones, 1978), Live in Montreux (Chick Corea/Joe Henderson, 1981), Trio Music (Chick Corea/Miroslav Vitous/Roy Haynes, 1981), Question and Answer (Pat Metheny with Dave Holland Roy Haynes, 1989)

Contributor: Eric Novod