Arts Desk

D.C. Jazz Festival: Opening Day

Roy Haynes

Ah, that magical time of year when D.C.'s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of jazz. Which, for the next 12 days, will be everywhere, in greater diversity and density than ever before. Yes, the D.C. Jazz Festival is determinedly getting better and better every year; it remains to be seen whether this year's incarnation, which starts today, will continue that trend. But signs point to yes, especially considering tonight's big headliner.

This is a story I've told before:

Some time ago, another local jazz type and I were discussing our favorite drummers. He said Lewis Nash, I said Jeff Watts, and we debated a bit. But I stopped the conversation short to note, "We should really qualify this whole thing and say "our favorite drummers aside from Roy [Haynes]." He agreed.

The "other local jazz type" in this story was Charlie Fishman, the D.C. Jazz Festival's executive producer, and his love for Haynes is obviously genuine: He got Haynes to open the festival tonight at The Hamilton. Nicknamed "Snap-Crackle"—and if you need to know why, you haven't listened to his records—Haynes is 88 years old and the world's greatest living jazz drummer. He's actually got a lot of importances in jazz, including the last surviving link to the great Charlie Parker quintets of the '40s and '50s, and a list of recording credits that will curl your toes. But even in his advanced years, Haynes isn't resting on these laurels. He leads a band called Fountain of Youth, a group of much younger players that seems to highlight the drummer's own determination to stay young. He's more than up to it, too, and as strong an omen for a great D.C. Jazz Festival as could be onstage for its opening night.

The Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band (with special guest Nasar Abadey's Supernova opening) performs at 8:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 14th and F streets NW. $35-$45.

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