Drummer Roy Haynes chose a perfect title for this album: at 79 years of age, he is an undisputed elder statesman of jazz and one of the few surviving ambassadors from the bebop past; at the same time, he plays with the kind of energy and unflagging invention that would be the envy of a drummer one-third his age. Fountain of Youth was recorded live in December of 2002 at the legendary Birdland club in New York City. Haynes leads a quartet that also features pianist Martin Bejerano, saxophonist Marcus Strickland, and bassist John Sullivan. The program opens with a brilliant jazz-waltz setting of the traditional English tune "Greensleeves," and then proceeds to survey both bebop standards (there are no fewer than three Thelonious Monk compositions on the nine-track program), Tin Pan Alley classics (Irving Berlin's "Remember"), and even a Pat Metheny tune (the lovely "Question and Answer"). Everyone plays with both fire and elegance, especially on the dancing "Butch and Butch" and a lovely, meditative rendition of Monk's "Ask Me Now." And while Haynes always plays with consummate taste and never consciously upstages his young bandmates, a listener paying any attention at all will be constantly surprised by his inventive and exquisitely tasteful rhythmic exclamations and subtle prods. Very highly recommended.
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Fountain of Youth might be quite a cocky title, but when you're in your late 70s and you play as well as drummer Roy Haynes does, you can afford to brag a bit. Haynes, now in his seventh decade as a professional jazz musician, really is a wonder, and on this live album (recoded in New York in 2002) he displays his inimitable art to the fullest. Leading a quartet manned by considerably younger players, including the fine saxophonist Marcus Strickland and the very promising pianist Martin BeJerano, Haynes displays his subtle and utterly personal approach to jazz drumming. He’s got such a beautiful touch on the cymbals and employs his snare and bass drum with such unerring rightness that you can listen just to him for a delightful time. But that would preclude your enjoyment of the striking group interplay, which is the raison d'être of Haynes's open-eared approach. He spurs his players on while they send energy back to him -- it’s a thrilling sharing of duties. The band’s repertoire also deserves kudos with its balance of standards (“Remember,“ “Summer Nights”) and jazz favorites (including Monk’s “Twinkle Tinkle, “ “Ask Me Now,” and “Green Chimneys” and Oliver Nelson’s “Butch and Butch”), as well as Pat Metheny’s “Question and Answer,” Dave Kikoski’s “Inner Trust,” and an appealing arrangement of “Greensleeves.”