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Loren Schoenberg -- Writings

Jazz U.K. column - March 2000

This writer was fortunate enough to catch late night sets by two of jazz greatest rhythmic innovators early this July – Roy Haynes in Edmonton, Canada and Elvin Jones at the Northsea Jazz Festival. The music was fascinating in many ways, but most striking was the subtlety and restraint with which these two masters of polyrhythmic swing kept the music flowing and their dynamic levels relatively low. Haynes' quartet had Ron Blake on soprano and tenor saxophone, the irrepressible Dave Kikowski on piano (sporting a cast on his right hand, he played everything with his left with total abandon) and Dwayne Burno on bass. The arrangements were effective, with an emphasis on variety, and the set included a drum solo with culminated with the leader coming down front with his hi-hat and making more music on it than most drummers do with their full accouterment. Haynes is seemingly ageless and many times appeared to be youngest man on the bandstand (he could easily be their grandfather), feinting moves with his effortless beat every which way, keeping the soloist perpetually on his toes. I could have done without the lengthy microphone break Haynes took towards the end of the set (one inebriated patron was too voluble in his enthusiasm, and another asked Haynes to go back to the drums; this threw Haynes' usually succinct rap off), but it seemed a small price to pay for such transcendent music.