Roy Haynes | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A month and a half ago Roy Haynes arrived at the Vancouver Jazz Festival with about 65 percent of his quartet: bassist Dwayne Burno had missed a connecting flight and pianist David Kikoski showed up with a knuckles-to-biceps cast on his left arm, leaving only Haynes and saxist Ron Blake both present and fully functional. Though Haynes probably should have canceled, he didn't--but the 74-year-old drummer's confidence is well earned. During his long and remarkable career Haynes has played with groups led by sax legends Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, and John Coltrane--icons who exemplify, respectively, the jazz of the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s--and accompanied demanding vocalist Sarah Vaughan for five years. In 1967 he drummed on what many consider the first fusion album, Gary Burton's Duster (reissued on Koch), and in this decade he's toured with Pat Metheny and with Chick Corea's "Remembering Bud Powell" band, where his duets with the pianist blew away the rest of the group's Chicago set. This broad experience has allowed him to lead convincingly modernist bands a generation or two younger than him since the 1960s, among them the aforementioned quartet. Still, Haynes can't always work miracles: while the Vancouver set showed off his ability to improvise not just rhythms but entire arrangements, the broken-winged quartet rarely got off the ground. But superhuman talent like Haynes's is especially impressive if you remember you're listening to a mere mortal--so when I realized he couldn't leap over every obstacle, it made me appreciate him even more. He's got enough energy to play circles around drummers half his age, and he illuminates beats, accents, and fills with crackling precision, bathing them in the tonal colors of his cymbals. Now that Kikoski's cast has come off, Haynes can lead instead of patching up holes, and saxist Blake (who cut his teeth in Chicago in the early 90s) will have a better setting for what has become a focused and eloquent solo style. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, August 20 and 21, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, August 22, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473. NEIL TESSER

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