Drummer Roy Haynes, born in March 1925, maintains his remarkably consistent string of quality records over the past 17 years with this 2011 outing. The kinetic trumpeter and flugelhornist Roy Hargrove joins Haynes and his sparkling Fountain of Youth quartet on a half-dozen tracks, including a pair of reinvigorated gems from the bosom of the bop era, playing the Dizzy Gillespie role on Chano Pozo’s “Tin Tin Deo,” and making like Miles Davis alongside altoist Jaleel Shaw’s Charlie Parker on the original, non-modal “Milestones.” But those highlights aren’t the pinnacle of Roy-Alty, which belong to a pair of duets between Haynes and pianist Chick Corea: A languid and beguiling collective improvisation entitled “All The Bars Are Open,” and a glorious rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Off Minor” that finds Corea brandishing Monk’s block-square notes and angular lines with his own flourishes while Haynes roams his kit with delighted vigor. It amounts to a triumphantly efficient and varied reunion from two-thirds of the trio behind Corea’s 1968 opus, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs.
Haynes also reaches back into his resume for the ballad “Pinky,” earmarking his long stint with vocalist Sarah Vaughan and giving Fountain of Youth pianist Martin Berjerano and bassist David Wong room for expression over the leader’s brushwork. The disc is bookended by spunky tunes from Haynes’s only slightly-younger living peers, opening with Sonny Rollins’s aptly-named “Grand Street” (which finds Hargrove in prime form) and closing with the tandem of Stanley Cowell’s “Equipoise” (featuring more classic swing-cum-bop buoyance from Haynes, master of the tom-toms, plus a scintillating Shaw solo) and McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance,” with tenor Marcus Strickland added to what becomes a torrid front line of soloists.
Haynes remains an indomitable timekeeper, oblivious to the ravages of age. But as Roy-Alty demonstrates, his taste in songs, core ensemble and choice guest stars has been an equally significant virtue during this extraordinary late chapter in his career.