The Jazzpar Awards in Denmark honoured significant musicians for 16 years, including master drummer Roy Haynes. Storyville is releasing a series of albums from recordings made by the Danish Broadcast Corporation during Jazzpar tours, including this excellent issue showcasing Haynes with Danish and Swedish musicians at three concerts on the Jazzpar Awards tour in 1994.
Few readers of Jazz Journal will need reminding of the extraordinary career of the drummer, who performed with a host of great musicians, among them Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and Pat Metheny. However, the excellent booklet note provided here by the knowledgeable Brian Priestley, and written in 2018, gives extensive background on Haynes, and short notes on the careers of the featured musicians: the masterly Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Danish pianist Thomas Clausen and Swedish tenor saxophonist Tomas Franck.
They stick, for the most part, to jazz standards, but Clausen is the composer of the funky A La Blues, and Franck is credited with Bright (very obviously based on the chords of Stella By Starlight, but an appealing theme in its own right).
Appropriately, the disc opens with a dynamic drum solo by Haynes on the title track, blending into a duet with hard-bop-toned tenorist Franck, who then ushers in the uptempo theme. The mood cools with the following ballad track, I Fall In Love Too Easily, with the late Ørsted Pedersen leading the theme with perfect intonation, with pianist Clausen completing the tune and creating a beautifully flowing solo. Bessie’s Blues opens with a brief solo from Haynes, and Clausen takes another strong solo on this track, co-ordinating brilliantly with the drummer.
All Blues has been played and recorded so often – and, of course, never better than by Miles – that there’s little that sounds fresh here, though Haynes does contribute a superb 6/8 solo. Franck’s tenor is suitably beguiling on the ballad Skylark, while the bassist powerfully underpins the theme of Thelonious Monk’s Rhythm-A-Ning. The two original compositions – A La Blues and Bright – conclude the performance. The final track is a brief but fulsome thank-you from the drummer for the award of the Jazzpar prize.
Those countless listeners who find Haynes’ work endlessly absorbing, and who enjoy their jazz forthright and straight ahead, will discover many rewards in this release.
My Shining Hour; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Bessie’s Blues; All Blues; Skylark; Rhythm-a-Ning; A La Blues; Bright; Roy speaks (66.51)
Haynes (d), Tomas Franck (tn), Thomas Clausen (p); Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (b). Europahallen, Aalborg; Kulturhuset, Toftlund; SAS Falconer Center, Copenhagen (all Denmark), March 10-13 1994.