• Yesterday Was World Health Day. Here Are 3 Unconventional Recharge Health Tips.

    A good rule to live by is always stay skeptical of world days as substitutes or surrogates for action year-round, but not so skeptical that you underestimate a healthy reminder to effect change. World Emoji Day is July 17, but who’s arguing emojis don’t deserve year-round campaigns? World Tuna Day, May 2, crucial around the clock. And don’t get reporter Rebecca Leber started on Earth Day as little more than a “trite” blip on corporate calendars for PR stunts, she says in her scathing “I’m an Environmental Reporter and I Hate Earth Day.”

    But some days are singularly beneficial, like World Health Day, sponsored yesterday by the World Health Organization. As the repercussions of the pandemic reverberate, health deserves a day. Every day. Take time if you can. Observe your health with three tips:

    1. Consult a doctor before ingesting Recharge advice, but barring any reason not to, get yourself vitamin D if you’re sunlessly indoors. Just don’t buy the myth that it prevents or mitigates COVID-19, put to rest by Harvard Health’s senior faculty editor Dr. Robert Shmerling, who reported Monday that a “randomized controlled study of people with moderate to severe COVID-19 who received a high dose of vitamin D showed no benefit” in recovery or risk reduction. But nutritional value persists.

    2. Billie Holiday would have turned 106 yesterday. Here’s a recording that gets nowhere near the shares or airtime it deserves, from a rehearsal in 1956: “My Yiddishe Momme.” The baby in the background is her godchild Bevan Dufty, future member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and director of Bay Area Rapid Transit. Rejuvenation is health too. This brings it.

    3. A clear mind doesn’t hurt, so let me settle a small debate: Your well-being is your wellbeing, no hyphen. Never mind the Los Angeles Times opinion writer who insisted weeks ago that everyone hyphenate well-being as “the correct form”: “Teenagers used to be teen-agers. Cellphones used to be cell phones. Email used to be e-mail. So it’s understandable that writers would start compressing well-being into wellbeing. In fact, I see it a lot. But the closed form isn’t in major dictionaries yet and, until it is, ‘well-being’ remains the correct form.’”

    Sorry to break it to you, but I hereby announce, effective today, by the authority vested in me as Mother Jones’ copy wrangler, that “wellbeing” is closed up in our style guide, just for you. Begone, hyphen. Wellbeing is an intact concept and should be an intact word. But if hyphenating serves your individual, organizational, or reader health, go with it.

    Bonus tip: Stop chewing gum. It’s mostly unhealthy, unless you don’t mind your genetic code dug up 5,700 years from now like this wad of gum from the Stone Age, whose chewer, scientists say, was a young Danish woman.

    Share your healthy recharges at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Remembering Robert Hershon, Poet of the “Mimeo Revolution”

    The New York Times has a touching obituary of the New York poet Robert Hershon, who died this week at 84. Across a 50-odd-year career, Hershon and his collaborators at the “self-editing” Hanging Loose Press—it started life as a binder of looseleaf poems you were free to keep or discard as you liked—published work by the writers Denise Levertov, Maggie Nelson, Cathy Park Hong, and Ha Jin, among countless others.

    In a 2002 profile, a Brooklyn Rail interviewer recalled meeting Hershon and leaving with a pile of literature:

    “One of the reasons the press has lasted so long is that we get a kick out of it,” Hershon says, choosing an armful of books to give me before I leave. “And one of the pleasures of a press is to be able to give books away.”…Then, glancing through the pile, he adds a book of his own. “There’s my old head,” he quips of a younger-looking jacket photograph, “I don’t know how I lost it.”

    Hanging Loose’s first office, before it was a true press, was the legendary McSorley’s bar on Manhattan’s East Seventh Street; Hershon and his collaborators soon landed in Brooklyn digs, before small Brooklyn presses were a thing, and eventually bounced back to the island—powered throughout by Hershon’s tireless enthusiasm, love of new writers, and subversive wit. The Times obit reprints his “F Stop,” a subway poem from 1985:

    Don’t push.
    There is another F
    train right behind us.

    There’s another F
    that’s faster and finer
    than this F is.
    It serves French fries
    and frog legs.
    All the seats face
    front and are covered
    with monkey fur. A flutist plays
    melodies in F. It’s an
    infinitely superior F train.
    It’s right behind us.
    Why don’t you wait?

    Ah, because we know the
    faces of those for whom
    the trains have never come.
    And we fear that what finally
    roars from that sour tunnel
    is fury itself.
    There is another F train
    right behind us.
    Let some other fool wait.

    And they start the push
    toward home.

    Poetry is more interesting than reporters talking about it, so go read the obituary and then read his work.

  • A New Online Film Festival Seeks Solutions to Injustice Globally

    An ambitious new series, Solutions Cinema, is off to a strong start. The monthlong festival searches for action and accountability around entrenched injustices through a slate of interactive films. Instead of one-directional storytelling, the 12 films are coupled with audience dialogue, including panels with filmmakers, featured characters, and students. Free screenings range widely, from a portrait of an Oakland high school’s reckoning with COVID-19 by director Peter Nicks, interviewed before by Mother Jones’ Brandon Patterson, to a documentary about grassroots journalism by Dalit women in India defying threats of violence and intimidation, by directors Rintus Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.

    The two, Homeroom and Writing With Fire, top my list. There’s another, about migrant laborers in Italy and Côte d’Ivoire (The Invisibles), and a timely documentary about South Africa’s escalating water scarcity (The Water Queen), along with a look at indigenous people in Mexico defending their community (Cherán: The Burning Hope). What’s uniquely promising here—the festival runs throughout April, launched by Doha Debates and Maine’s Point North Institute—is more than the scope and scale. It’s the basic premise, a kind of wager that is vanishingly incentivized in much of today’s media: a bid for dialogue instead of monologue. An effort to learn and unlearn. And an affirmation that audiences are drivers, not passengers, of cinema. The goal of engaging across divides without false equivalencies or neutrality, and finding that sweet spot, needs amplifying.

    Variety has more. Register for screenings here. And share your own recharges at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • A Growing Website Visualizes and Archives Every Music Genre in the World (or Tries To)

    As my colleague Maddie Oatman wrote in her interview with the musician Jake Blount back in December, “genres” are neatly parceled networks of marketability, a bit of code to construct artistic expression as a workable commodity. The banjo player and fiddler feels “compelled,” he says, to unpack “boundaries between genres that were created specifically to divide music by who was playing it and who was listening­—because that’s where genre comes from.” He wants instead to “highlight the interconnectedness of very different traditions” of Gullah music, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and spirituals.

    His interview has stayed with me. It jumped to mind as I scrolled and stumbled through Every Noise at Once, a living archive of all genres in the world. The website maps “an algorithmically generated…scatter-plot of the musical genre space based on data tracked and analyzed for 5,304 genre-shaped distinctions…as of 2021-03-30…Click anything to hear an example of what it sounds like. Be calmly aware that this may periodically expand, contract, or combust.”

    Scroll through. After, take a deep dive into the multiplying meanings of “genre” in Ross Simonini’s excellent new Q&A with the pianist Vijay Iyer in the Believer.

  • From Our Archives, an Interview With Novelist Larry McMurtry

    Brent Humphreys/Redux

    Each Friday, we bring you an article from our archives to propel you into the weekend.

    Today it was announced that Larry McMurtry, one of the great novelists of his time, died. He was 84. A writer of the American West, McMurtry is often remembered for his classic Lonesome Dove. It is, according to our reporter Tim Murphy, worth the read (however long). As Tim joked in recommending it today: “[melville dies] ‘read Moby Dick if you haven’t.'” But McMurtry wasn’t just a writer of cowboys and horses. His incisive novels became classic films, like The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment. I haven’t dug in, but I’ve also heard a few mentions of McMurtry’s work for the New York Review of Books. (My own experience with McMurtry is mainly through his son, James McMurtry, who has made some of my favorite albums of the last 20 years.)

    Michael Mechanic, a senior editor here—with a book out soon on the inner lives of the rich (order!)—interviewed McMurtry in 2014. Give it a read. I particularly liked this quick back and forth in which McMurtry swats down the annoying interpretations of Lonesome Dove he has seen:

    You felt that Lonesome Dove was misinterpreted, that you’d intended it as an anti-Western. In what sense?

    Would you like your menfolk to be that way? The Western myth is a heroic myth, and yet settling the West was not heroic. It ended with Custer; it was the end of the settlement narrative, which had been going on since 1620.

  • “The Hug I Got Was Unimaginable”: More Nursing Homes Are Easing Restrictions After Vaccinations

    No hugging sprees just yet, but yes, senior centers and assisted-living homes are easing restrictions following loosened federal guidelines for vaccinated adults. Ninety-four-year-old Gloria Winston of Rhode Island rejoiced in an interview with the Associated Press: “This is the beginning of the very best to come, hopefully, for all of us” who are fortunate enough to emerge safely from isolation. “We need the nourishment of each other.”

    “The hug I got was just unimaginable, how much it made me feel,” a vaccinated Ohio resident said. Policies vary by state and facility, but reviews are underway. Almost 1.5 million long-term-care residents are fully vaccinated, along with 1 million staffers, according to the CDC, underscoring the mounting toll of isolation and the healing effect of vaccine-enabled hugs.

    See you soon. Let’s meet for that Recharge picnic, all quarter-million subscribers to this newsletter. I’ll make spanakopita. You bring that cucumber-mint thing you keep emailing about. Or cantaloupe. We’re not picky. Hmm, 217,466 subscribers. Maybe we should call it off. We’d need a ton of phyllo dough. Some of you can’t even have feta. Spanakopita without feta is like a newsletter without music, so here, in the name of reportorial vigor, is your daily lift: The Rascals’ “It’s a Beautiful Morning.” Let us know how your day’s going at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • More Sounds From Mars

    A few weeks ago, Recharge boosted you with the good news that you can hear the first sounds ever recorded on the surface of Mars. Well, now there’s more. NASA released the sounds of the Mars rover’s wheels as they clank across the planet’s surface. “The sounds were picked up by one of the two onboard microphones. This audio is taken from a 16-minute sequence recorded during a 27m-drive on 7 March,” says the BBC.

    My take on space noises? They’re cool. And, dare I say it, weird. The second sounds from Mars are like you’re inside a metal can being thrown down a stairwell (at least to me).

    As last time, this is an opportunity to pontificate, long and hard, on the connection between our planetary existence and sound. My colleague Daniel King scratched together a Mars playlist (Mars Volta, Bruno Mars, Mars Breslow, John Coltrane’s “Mars”). But I’m going to give myself more leeway here. A few “space” albums or songs I’d listen to post-rover noises: “Spaced Out on Your Love,” by Errol Stubbs; the album Guitar in the Space Age! by Bill Frisell; and (sorry, a weird one) the art “recording project” writ album Captured Space, released just last year. Finish off with “Spaced Cowboy” by Sly & the Family Stone, one of the greatest songs of all time, and you’re good to go.

    Do you have a “space” playlist? Are you going to get mad at me about the “Spaced Cowboy” hot take or just realize I’m right? Email us at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Duets on Justice, Poetry, and Music: A Livestream With Nikki Giovanni, Evie Shockley, and Christian McBride

    “I say to my students all the time, ‘If you want to learn how to write, if you want to learn history, listen to jazz,'” Nikki Giovanni said Tuesday in a livestream with bassist Christian McBride and poet Evie Shockley, presented by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. They converged on a trio of themes—the sculpting of sound, the pairing of words, and the making of movements for change.

    Giovanni’s poetry lands in a lineage of writers and educators including Thulani Davis, featured here before, whose new book, Nothing But the Music, is a must-read of musical impressions, improvisation, and insight. The New York Times on Friday ran a spectacular feature on Davis—the first woman to win a Grammy for best album liner notes—by Daphne A. Brooks. Which leads me to a question and, I think, one of its answers: When do notes line the music, and when does music accompany the vivid language of the notes? When they illuminate each other, bringing you closer to each, you’ve got the creative core of Davis’ work.

    An extra Recharge: Thanks to readers who wrote in with tributes to drummer Roy Haynes on his 96th birthday, adding to the 22 musicians we interviewed:

    You’ve given me lifetimes of joy and I come home to you every day. Bless you and thank you. I will always come back to your playing. It is the best of life.
    —Michael T.

    Happy birthday to the still-reigning king of percussion, Roy Haynes. Your session at Newport with John Coltrane is the most potent hymn to freedom and the future that I’ve ever experienced. I wish you and all your brothers and sisters everything that you and Trane played and implied. Thank you for the blessings you continue to lay on my ears and my life. Back at ya, infinitely multiplied. Live long and enjoy.
    —Scarlet T.

    Happy birthday, many more. Chicago fan. Enjoy snap crackle for 60 years. Stay healthy and safe.
    —Albin C.

    Snap, crackle, and oh my God he’s still got pop too! Have a great birthday.
    —Joe V.

    Thanks for the memories and stories of Roy, one of my inspirations as a drummer. Saw him play trio at Jazz Alley in Seattle when suddenly this [very drunk listener] gets on the stage between encores screaming, “We love you, Roy!” He’s standing in front of his drums sipping his brandy while [this person] is pounding his drums. The pianist and bass player pack up while Roy in his cowboy hat and snakeskin boots just stands there with a big smile watching. Security escorts her offstage and the band comes back for one more.
    —Jud S.

    God bless you, Roy. Your longevity gives and sustains life for the great art form you helped to create. Meeting you and jamming with you at places like the Steer Inn, Sonny’s Place, and Gerald’s and listening to your recordings gave my musical life a great lift and inspiration to live performing, composing, and recording. You are the greatest. I hope I get to see you once more.
    —Greg B.

    One of the musicians we interviewed, Jon Jang, celebrated his own birthday this weekend, for which he ran a fundraiser to benefit the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and a community of musicians. It’s exceeded its goal and keeps running.

  • On Roy Haynes’ 96th Birthday Today, a Collective Card From More Than 20 Jazz Giants

    Roy Haynes in 2010Greetsia Tent/Getty

    The signature sound, pulse, stamina, and versatility of Roy Haynes, who turns 96 today, run as deep as the musicians who treasure him express here. For his birthday, I spoke with more than 20 musicians, each invoking a story that anchors Haynes in the pantheon of postwar jazz.

    What emerges is not just reverence but a reflection of American rhythm over the 20th and 21st centuries. Haynes swung with Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane, opening a new path by creating a language within a language. He expanded time instead of just marking it, freeing his hands to play above, around, and across the beat. He has become, as Wayne Shorter says, “a champion”—or, in the words of Mary Lou Williams, “the greatest drummer in the world.”

    The interviews, conducted this week, have been edited and condensed. Hit the arrow at the right to return to the top.

    Roy Haynes at 96

    Brian Blade
    Dee Dee Bridgewater
    Terri Lyne Carrington
    Marilyn Crispell
    Andrew Cyrille
    Billy Drummond
    Tia Fuller
    Marcus Gilmore
    Tammy Hall
    Billy Hart
    Louis Hayes
    Harmony Holiday
    Jon Jang
    Jerome Jennings
    Oliver Lake
    Branford Marsalis
    Tiger Okoshi
    Danilo Pérez
    Reggie Quinerly
    Wayne Shorter
    Marcus Strickland
    Nasheet Waits
    Howard Wiley

    Roy Haynes in 2013

    Anthony Barboza/Getty

    Brian Blade, drummer:

    Roy! Haynes! Drumming has always existed—someone’s always hit something and made a sound—but then comes Roy Haynes to spark imagination and wonder beyond rhythm and dancing and the pulse of life. Thank God for Roy in his 96th year. I’ve seen him several times, and when you do, you’re changed, your life is enriched. That’s what the music is about, and certainly what he’s been a vessel of his entire life. When you think of Thelonious Monk or Charlie Parker or Trane or Chick, you think Roy Haynes. He plays with levity and depth and so much joy. He’d have his left foot on the leg of the hi-hat stand, not even playing it. Like a dancer. Off the ground.

    Dee Dee Bridgewater, vocalist:

    There was one time Roy and McCoy were playing on a program, and Roy took a solo. I’ll never forget, he just stood up and started tapping. Oh my lord. I had never seen him tap. I knew he did, but what a moment. He taps like he plays drums. I love everything about Roy Haynes, and we both love cowboys. In the ’90s he was always wearing cowboy boots, so my idea was to get him to do a country-western album [laughs]. I remember we were honoring Max Roach at a tribute up in Harlem, and we were in the green room, and Roy had on some mean cowboy boots. I said, “We gotta do this album,” and he started singing, “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em!”

    When he turned 90, I went to see him at the Blue Note, and whenever I see him it feels like he’s just dancing behind the drums. If he insists on getting to the bandstand at 96, baby I’mma try and be there.

    Terri Lyne Carrington, drummer and founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice:

    I’m indebted to Roy. Words can’t express my gratitude for the inspiration he’s given me since I was a kid. I met Roy when I was very young—he would let me sit in on his kit and encourage me as a young girl who wanted to play the drums and had potential. The most important thing is people actually mentoring—mentoring moments. Roy is the hippest, the one I gravitated to when I started teaching, making sure my students check him out. My generation may cite Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette, but I know for a fact that Jack’s biggest influences were Roy Haynes and Elvin Jones. I keep telling my students to go back to Roy, that they’re missing the whole boat if they don’t go to Roy and take a deep dive.

    Roy has so much magic. I’d just humbly say thank you—and people bullshit and say stuff like this all the time, but I truly mean it—for providing so much inspiration. He knows I love him dearly. Roy’s way of making the drum set more fluid is unparalleled. He had and has the freedom to move away from 2 and 4, and make the drum set one sound. But you never miss the element of oomph. His playing makes me see other possibilities for myself.

    Roy Haynes in 1999

    Jack Vartoogian/Getty

    Marilyn Crispell, pianist:

    Everything that exists vibrates.
    It’s been said that we live in a universe
    Composed of music
    Recurrent beats from our own heartbeats
    To seemingly random or chaotic beats
    Part of a pattern too large to see
    Waves of a universal pulse.
    Happy birthday, Roy.

    I played with Anthony Braxton for many years, and I was thinking of his concept of a pulse, like a wave and the phrases that fit it, with a crest and a valley. That larger picture has its own beat, and Roy plays that larger pattern.

    Andrew Cyrille, drummer:

    When you hear Roy and he’s playing with Thelonious Monk, you know it’s not Frankie Dunlop. You know it’s not Art Blakey. You know it’s not Ben Riley. You know it’s Roy Haynes. There’s a name given to Roy’s playing called Snap, Crackle, Pop. He has a way of assigning rhythm that’s different from other drummers, approaching those beats and the fractions within a bar that gives you a signature, and Roy’s always had a distinct one.

    I remember talking to Max when I was a youngster—he was playing at Smalls Paradise—and after he played, I walked over and said, “Max, you played everything,” and he said, “No, I didn’t play everything. There’s a whole universe out there. If you want to find something for yourself, go out there.” That opened the door for me. Roy does too.

    Billy Drummond, drummer:

    One time I’m playing the Charlie Parker Festival. Max Roach is there, playing solo drums, and he sees Roy in the audience and pulls him onstage and the two of them are telling stories about their time with Charlie Parker. Which was already cool. Roy had just come from a car show where he’d won a trophy for his vintage Bricklin SV-1, which has gull wing doors, like the DeLorean from Back to the Future. After the festival, I’m on my way home and I come across Roy just sitting alone in his car, with the wings up, chilling with his trophy in the back and a cooler with ice and champagne. I say, “Hey, Mr. Haynes!” And he says, “Man, you want some champagne?” And we just hang out. I’m asking all these questions about Trane and Newk and Bud Powell. Just me and Roy on a side street in New York, drinking champagne. In his Bricklin! I got somebody walking by to take a picture of us. I have a few Roy Haynes stories, but encounters like that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

    Every time I see Roy play, it’s a lesson in the mastery of what I’m trying to do. I make a beeline to see him at every opportunity. There’s a clip of him in the ’40s with Lester Young really breaking up time, playing syncopated rhythms that set the template for what came decades later. That’s why he’s the freshest, the hippest no matter what setting. And still is.

    Tia Fuller, saxophonist:

    Two years ago I got the chance to play with Roy for the Pixar film Soul, and he was an embodiment of history and extraordinary energy. He had more energy than all of us put together. Just to see him not only behind the drums, but I got video of him playing on piano—90-something years old. Here he is having played with all the greats, a legend, and still jumping into this music as optimistic as when he first picked up an instrument. That’s worth volumes.

    Roy Haynes in 2008

    Richard Ecclestone/Redferns/Getty

    Marcus Gilmore, drummer:

    He’s my grandfather first, but he’s also my hero in a lot of ways on the instrument. Just a blessing every day. He’s one of the most important musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries, that degree of wisdom and information, a learning experience. Not literally “How do you do this?” but being around him, his energy. We’ve always had a special connection. And it’s good you’re talking to Terri. She’s known him a very long time, coming up in Massachusetts together. My grandfather knew her grandfather, and Terri’s been in the community forever, came up in that community between grandpops and Jack DeJohnette.

    Tammy Hall, pianist:

    Mary Lou Williams comes to mind. She recorded an album with Roy Haynes in 1976 called A Grand Night for Swinging. She said, “He is the greatest drummer in the world.”

    I used to be a little skeptical of that—not necessarily his ability, because he is great and one of the most innovative—but I remember first hearing her say that. I thought, “Really? The greatest?” But yes! I agree! Yes, he is the greatest drummer in the world.

    I’m working on a piece right now about Mary Lou Williams called Convergence, where she and Nina Simone and Hazel Scott and Dorothy Donegan all meet up in Paris. It’s an oral tradition, an experiential one, and Roy is a mentor to many. I know one of his mentees, a young drummer who’s brilliant, Darrell Green. He’s learned a lot from Roy.

    Billy Hart, drummer:

    The last time I saw Roy was a year ago, and he still sounds fantastic in his 90s. I remember him at the Vanguard. When I was a teenager, a guy came up to me and said, “Have you checked out Roy? No? Well, you better get on it right away.” When I heard Roy’s recordings, there was my dream played out for me. I went up to Roy and said, “How you doing, Haynes?” And he looked at me and said, “How you doin’, Haynes?” [laughs] I mean, we’ve had Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Roy Haynes. It just keeps going and it’s made an impact. God bless Roy.

    Louis Hayes, drummer:

    I’d like to give my regards to Roy’s family, such a magnificent family, especially his daughter and two sons and his grandson, Marcus. My respect and regards to all of them, a big part of Roy’s life. Family and community are very important to me, and Roy has been part of this history of what they call bebop. He was there with Charlie Parker, Monk, Dizzy. Happy birthday, Roy.

    Harmony Holiday, poet, choreographer:

    The first thing I think of is Roy’s Western style. I love how he brought this Black cowboy energy into jazz because no one else really did. That’s a big deal. He still rocks the Black cowboy, and I saw him perform with Jason Moran. I was a big Tony Williams fan, and I got to see Roy live at a festival in Harlem. Roy seemed super young—you couldn’t tell he was the oldest person onstage. I didn’t think about age at all. I just thought about him being this amazing drummer, and he’s backed up Sarah Vaughan.

    Roy Haynes in 1993

    Jack Vartoogian/Getty

    Jon Jang, pianist:

    When I was 17 and getting my feet wet in the music, in 1971, there were two inspirational recordings with Roy Haynes that turned my life around: The live recording of My Favorite Things with John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, and Jimmy Garrison, and Chick Corea’s Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, with Roy and Miroslav Vitouš. 96-year-old Roy Haynes joins an unbelievable small group of musicians who keep on keepin’ on creating music at the highest level. Cellist Pablo Casals recorded the Bach Cello Suites in his early 90s. Verdi composed his last opera when he was 80 years old. Eubie Blake was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in his 90s. 

    Jerome Jennings, drummer:

    First time I met Roy, I used to hang with Clark Terry. I used to take CT to hospital visits because a friend of mine asked me, and one night we went to hear Roy at the Vanguard. The fact that I was with CT, Roy was very nice and cool to me, and when I heard Roy play the snare, it felt good. Lot of people when you think Roy Haynes, you think his complexity, but just hearing him lay it down, put it right down the pipe, right down the pocket, that was amazing. He was in his 80s and just jumps up.

    One of the first things Roy said to me was, “Do you know my grandson, Marcus Gilmore?” He was singing Marcus’ praises, rightfully so. Marcus is bad. Roy helped create the language for jazz drums, man—him and Max, Art Blakey, Roy Porter, stretching the possibilities. I wish Roy a happy 96th.

    Oliver Lake, saxophonist:

    I had the pleasure of seeing Roy at the Blue Note and was totally blown away. I was just in awe at how present he was, how he swung the band, lifted the band off the bandstand. He doesn’t age. That he’s 96 is incredible. I’ve performed with his son, Graham Haynes, and throughout my career I’ve been associated with very strong drummers. I just go with the feeling of the drums, the drummers who play from the heart and want to make a complete communication. 

    Branford Marsalis, saxophonist:

    Roy is one of the greatest jazz drummers ever. Pretty much the greatest. I’d say the greatest, yes. I mean, Elvin’s a close second. They’re basically tied, but—in this bizarre quest we have for individuality and innovation, pedagogical competence goes right out the window. When you think about the fact that Roy played with Sarah Vaughan’s trio, which is a specific kind of discipline, and then with Charlie Parker, which is another, then Coltrane, then Monk! And Roy sounds totally different in all four settings.

    Roy grew up in that dance era where intensity and the beat were major requirements, and because he did, the shit will always have exuberance, intensity, energy, joyousness. And if the conversation is the usual boring-ass jazz conversation about “singular imprint”—which to me is, you find the five things you do well and play the same shit on everybody else’s records—then no, but if you’re thinking about the level of versatility he has, the shit’s just astounding. It’s something to admire. With a lot of my colleagues, the understanding of jazz comes through harmonic understanding, not basic tap-your-foot impulse. The music has to reflect all of that—and Roy’s does.

    Roy Haynes in 2012

    Jack Vartoogian/Getty

    Tiger Okoshi, trumpeter:

    Happy, happy birthday to Roy. We recorded together with Gary Burton, and I first met Roy at the rehearsal. I thought I was just there to watch. After a few songs, Gary asks me to bring my trumpet and join Roy. I was so nervous, but I tried my best and then I wasn’t nervous. After that, Roy, Steve, and Gary hired me for the gig. Gary says, “We want you to play.” Roy’s snare stuff was unbelievably swinging.

    The sound of Roy’s drums: If you know the Japanese taiko drummers, they’re feeling the vibration of the skin—they don’t hit it, they bounce it. That’s how I felt. Roy doesn’t need the cymbals like other drummers. His drums are like boom. Swinging so bad.

    Like a Rolls-Royce. I felt I could play anything on top of it. Thank you so much, Roy.

    Danilo Pérez, pianist:

    How I met Roy: I was in Barbados playing a festival, and a friend of mine and friend of Roy’s went to this club to jam, and I was drinking my glass of wine, so I went over my limit and I was on the happy side. Three hours went by and all of a sudden this hi-hat from heaven joins us. I look and there’s this man with a huge hat and nice boots. I didn’t recognize him, so I’m thinking, “My God, this guy’s incredible, I gotta get him to New York, get him a gig!” I said to him, “Sir, can you give me your phone number? You’ll take New York by storm. What’s your name?” He goes, “My name is Roy Haynes.” I almost fell off my chair.

    That night, he took me around Barbados to eat fried fish, and that’s the first time he asked me to play with his quartet. We had that mentorship. One time we’re on a bus listening to Dear Old Stockholm he did with Trane. I’ll never forget how emotional Roy got listening to it. I carry that moment in my heart deeply. He’s cooking with some beautiful colors. And Roy was crucial for connecting me with my history of jazz in Panama. The first person who hired Roy was Luis Russell. Panama has a long history of jazz greats, and Roy was the first to hip me to that.

    Reggie Quinerly, drummer:

    One time I was at Port Authority at 4 in the morning, taking a train, and who do I see? There’s a short diminutive man in a cowboy hat. I walked up to him and said, “I know who you are” [laughs]. He was nice and cordial, told me he’d been partying all night and was taking the train back to Queens. Just the giddiness I had seeing Roy Haynes. It cannot be overstated how much he means to the music. First time I remember seeing him, he was playing in my hometown of Houston. What struck me was his life force and energy radiating from the drums, hitting me in my chest. That’s the vibe, and that stuff goes on the recordings. To me he plays life.

    Wayne Shorter, saxophonist:

    Hey Roy, happy birthday man. I’ll never forget the time we had at Slugs. Yeah man you were a champion and still are. You’re always gonna be a champion to me. You know? We love you man.

    Roy Haynes in 2005


    Marcus Strickland, saxophonist:

    A story I love to tell: We’re at a festival in Boston, and after we played we got into a limo, and the limo driver was blasting a Missy Elliott song. Roy knew all the lyrics—every single lyric. I didn’t know the lyrics. That shows me, man, this cat has never ceased to absorb what’s around him. He’s a force, always bringing fire. The first time I saw Roy was at the Vanguard. Russell Malone put out word that Roy was looking for a new saxophonist, and the first thing I notice is Roy’s boots. I’m used to drummers being all up in the hi-hat, but his foot was just chilling on the hi-hat stand donning those boots. And his ride cymbal was so strong he didn’t need the crutch of the hi-hat. Right then and there, it dawned on me how he changed the music.

    Nasheet Waits, drummer:

    My first introduction to Roy was through my father, Freddie Waits, who had a good relationship with Roy, the way you see old friends interact with jokes and hugs and admiration. I grew up in Greenwich Village and I’d tag along. Mr. Haynes, thank you for blessing us with your presence. You’ve been an inspiration for me and my father. I remember the first time I consciously “stole” something from Roy as a drummer. [laughs] I was in my 20s at the Vanguard. I was studying Roy, and for a week after, I was trying to sound like him, and people were like, “You sound like Roy—you sound like you were listening to Roy all week.” That’s exactly what I was doing. That’s the highest compliment—for a minute. I was like, “You’re right, I did see him last week, and this is All. His. Shit. Right. Here.” [laughs]

    Howard Wiley, saxophonist:

    First of all, anybody who’s in the lineage of the music so long and playing at a high level, everybody talks about Tony and Elvin and Philly Jo, but when you talk about their associations, you’re talking Roy Haynes. He’s on Dear Old Stockholm with Coltrane. What Roy is playing is so thick. It’s a thing he has and he makes whatever band he’s in. Roy Haynes all day. You talk about the Bud Powell tribute band? Roy. Haynes. All. Day. What I like about these cats, man, the OGs, they’d play the same equipment and sound so different. Roy put out this album that nobody messes with: Praise.

    I was playing this gig with Amiri and Amina Baraka at the Malcolm X Jazz Festival with Marcus Shelby, and Amina was like, “Play this song,” and I’m like, “I’m shaky on the bridge,” and when you tell an old-school sister you don’t know something right before you go onstage, you get that look: It’s a very particular Motherfucker, are you serious? You done got me out here? I know that look, but I’m like, “Here’s this Roy Haynes song I really like and I think you’re gonna dig it too. It’s called ‘After Sunrise.’” And we play that. When I tell you I got the biggest hug and kiss from Amina after, and she’s tough, my man. Roy’s music has such a universal love.

    First time I met Roy was at a conference. I introduce myself, we start talking. I’mma wear the OGs out, so I’m talking to him for an hour, and how you play all that shit in some cowboy boots? He’s wearing snakeskin pants and cowboy boots killing the drums. The joy he embodies. All praise is due, and happy birthday. This time last year he was scheduled to play Blue Note at 95 and I’m like, this motherfucker is 95 and playing the Blue Note. That’s the dude you wanna be—the drums and the spirit.

    Jack Vartoogian/Getty
    Julien Hekimian/WireImage/Getty
    Douglas Mason/Getty

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