Drummer Roy Haynes appeared to be connected to a hidden power source at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Friday night, and not just when he was seated behind his kit. The 80-year-old jazz legend radiated waves of energy from the moment he strutted on stage, slyly gesturing for more applause, until he bid everyone farewell, after instructing the audience on how to hum the Al Jolson-penned "Anniversary Song."
For nearly 90 minutes Haynes propelled his quartet through a typically diverse set of tunes that sometimes pointed to notable collaborations in his extraordinary career, from Thelonious Monk ("Trinkle Tinkle") to Pat Metheny ("Question and Answer"). Each arrangement illustrated his flair for balancing effortless swing with explosive force. His playing on the Monk composition was particularly vigorous and colorful, emphatically underscoring the tune's echoing theme, splashing dissonances and lopsided cadences.
The evening began on a lyrical note with Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way," the first of several pieces that generously showcased Haynes's young charges: pianist Martin Bejerano (who later contributed an imaginatively reharmonized solo arrangement of Benny Golson's "Whisper Not"), tenor and soprano saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and bassist John Sullivan. The obviously close rapport Haynes has developed with these musicians over the last few years helped spark a long standing ovation at evening's end.
-- Mike Joyce