Roy Haynes: A Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story

Highlights from the jazz drummer's six-decade career grace this three-CD/one-DVD retrospective, including performances with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Sarah Vaughan.

Roy Haynes

A Life in Time: The Roy Haynes Story

Contributors: charlie parker, miles davis, sarah vaughan, john coltrane, pat metheny
Label: Dreyfus
US Release Date: 2007-10-09
UK Release Date: Available as import

Roy Haynes's rolodex must read like the Penguin Guide to Jazz. The Roxbury, Massachusetts-born drummer, who turned 82 earlier this year, has played with just about every acclaimed giant and fringe underdog of 20th-century jazz, from small combos to big bands, as a session player, touring ensemble member, and bandleader. He's seen it all: the mutations of style and speed, the music of the masses and stuff of intellectual solitude, swing and bebop and hard bop and post-bop and free, and every other digable niche from within and without. In the late ‘40s and early '50s, Haynes played extensively with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis, gigged with Bud Powell and Stan Getz, and later spent 1953-1958 touring with Sarah Vaughan. He was Elvin Jones's substitute in John Coltrane's classic quartet in the early '60s, and beginning in 1970, has led his own rotating-cast group, the Hip Ensemble. Throughout his six decades in music, Haynes has collaborated with Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, Etta James, Sonny Rollins, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and countless others. Toss a dart at a wall of modern jazz happenings, and chances are it'll land on a spot where Roy Haynes was involved to some degree.

As would be expected, the new career-overview compilation A Life in Time: The Story of Roy Haynes is a veritable who's who of jazz, spanning the years from 1949 (Young's "Ding Dong") to 2006 ("Segment", a live track recorded with Haynes's Fountain of Youth Band). The set's three CDs break up Haynes's career into thematic and chronological nuggets. Disc One catalogs Haynes's supportive roles from 1949-1962, featuring mostly small-combo work. This includes the nimble romp of Powell's "Bouncin' with Bud" (1949), Parker's Latin-flavored "My Little Suede Shoes" (1951), Nat Adderley's nipping "Two Brothers" (1955), Monk's quizzical "Rhythm-A-Ning" (1958), and a couple of songs showcasing a scat-happy Vaughan in small and big band settings ("Shulie-A-Bop" and "How High the Moon", respectively). In a wonderful 1958 trio piece with pianist Phineas Newborn and bassist Paul Chambers, Haynes sets off the sort of tasteful drum solo that earned him the nickname Snap Crackle, ricocheting from hi-hat ripple to floor-tom roll to an ambush on the cymbals.

Haynes's percussive tact rings even louder on Disc Two, which focuses more on his out-leaning/contemporary material from 1963-1998 and allows for wider improvisatory jurisdiction. The stuttering "Snap Crackle", taken from 1962's Out in the Afternoon and featuring Kirk and pianist Tommy Flanagan, is one of Haynes's most distinctive and minimalist originals, its rooster-strut melody reflecting the syncopations of a drummer's mind, it still sounds like nothing else made at the time. Elsewhere, Haynes makes a break on Corea's lightning-quick "Matrix" (1968), punctuates the guitar-and-vibe velvetiness of Metheny's "Question and Answer" (1997) with impulsive ribs to the snare, and adds expressive color to Alice Coltrane's organ catharsis "Transfiguration" (1978). Haynes seizes creative freedom on a run through "My Favorite Things" with John Coltrane at Newport in 1963, his kit locking shoulders with Trane's blustery soprano.

Disc Three compiles the many phases of Haynes's Hip Ensembles from 1970-2006. The Hip Ensembles flirt with the freedoms of the avant-garde, but often maintain a much more structured sense of operations. This balance is struck nicely in '70s tunes like "Equipoise" and "Vistalite", where melodic accessibility meets dexterous musicianship. The searching spirit of Davis’s late-period electric groups fuels 1992’s “Brown Skin Girl”, while a 2002 take on "Greensleeves" bounces its melody atop Haynes's fluttering kit. Many of the selections on A Life in Time strategically highlight Haynes's playing, but the penultimate track, "Hippidy Hop", a seven-minute drum solo performed live in 2006, is the ultimate kind of emphasis. The set's bonus DVD underscores that emphasis with a pair of live performances from 1973 and 2005, both featuring highly creative solos by Haynes. Drum solos are what they are -- indulgent, unnecessary, impressive -- but Haynes is able to maintain rhythmic fascination amongst more brainy attempts to impress. Playing, he explains on the DVD's interview segment, is "nothin' you can talk about -- you've got to feel that." As A Life in Time attests, Haynes feels it incessantly.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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