Hard Bop

Dwayne Burno had an awed look on his face for most of the second set Thursday night at the Vanguard. He was stationed right behind his boss, Roy Haynes, and the drummer's every flam and fillip made the bassist wince: "Ooh, that shit's nasty." The 72-year-old percussionist is a stimulus monger, delivering his lines with a volcanic imposition even when ching-chinka-chinging in support of the youthful colleagues he keeps on retainer. At one point an extended cornet passage by his son Graham turned wobbly. Dad righted it with the flick of a wrist and the crash of a sock cymbal. Whenever Haynes hits his drums, certitude and declaration are in the air.

With its uproar usurped by '60s new thing and '70s loft lingo, bop's status as an insurrectionist idiom is sometimes forgotten. That notion never leaves Haynes's mind. Like his new Dreyfus disc, Praise, the Vanguard set united hard-swinging tempos and classic themes, indicating the main stream is where he does business. There were no rules broken or conventions upended; the quintet's designs were club-gig commonplaces, rife with first-me, then-you soloing schemes. Theoretically tedious, right? But as saxist Ron Blake got sweaty with elaborate r&b motifs and pianist Dave Kikoski dedicated himself to an evening of vehement romping, the group signified authority and distinction an other way: by playing the hell out of every tune.

On "Inner Trust" the leader shouldered all the flailing action of his crew while simultaneously issuing them warnings and challenges. There's a diabolical choppiness to his expert sense of time, and his mallets and brushes continually stirred the pot, even during a piece refined enough to accommodate Ornette and minuet. Haynes has made a career of virtuosic impudence, pushing Bird into fleet offensives in the early '50s, and driving Trane toward unholy rapture a decade later. Here his provocations were virtually quantifiable: every caustic splash and gleeful thud caused his assistants to dig in a bit deeper.

Roy Haynes at the Vanguard: When he hits his drums, certitude and declaration are in the air.
Hiroyuki Ito
Roy Haynes at the Vanguard: When he hits his drums, certitude and declaration are in the air.

With guys like Tony Williams and Art Taylor gone, jazz drumming is at a loss for a flamboyance that attracts rather than repels. With charm and humor, Haynes plants the flag of sophisticated aggression in the ground of every hill he climbs.—Jim Macnie


A Run for Your Money

There were a lot of superstars in the house Sunday night at Tramp's, but it was Run's house. Don't get me wrong, before the "old" guys restored our faith, we got plenty of '90s hip-hop: "Hey, sound man" whining, mysterious equipment fuck-ups, interminable waiting, and unadvertised "bonus" opening act Sunny Black. Elusive producing genius Large Professor put in a good 20 minutes with his crisp rhymes and oblique funk, but his show was all too new-school: Why did he complain we couldn't hear him? We could. Why did he bitch that "The Mad Scientist" was "supposed to" come out on Geffen when it did, two years ago? We forgot these questions when he closed with Main Source mainstays "Fakin' the Funk" and "Looking at the Front Door."

At midnight, out of the blackness came the blackness—Jam Master Jay in trademark black fedora, black T-shirt, and black leather suit, hyping us up, making us beg for our heroes. Showbiz was in the house and not a moment too soon. DMC is leaner and meaner, Run's got a few extra pounds, but, oh my, what a difference a mission makes. BOOM! "King of Rock"! BLAOW! "Rockbox"! VREET! The greatest hip-hop act ever? Hey, Chuck D and I think so. In 1983, they brought hard beats, empty space, and yelling to rap music, fast-forwarding the genre into a five-year burst of creativity sustained by the realization that you can rap about any subject over any sound. And it gets deeper the harder you lean on their songbook—no bitch rhymes, no gun talk, an early turntablist, and the rock-in-my-rap Reese's that's never been bettered.

Run ran the show, doing a light-speed a cappella that brought the crowd to its toes (we were standing already), name-checking "Krush Groove," and making sure we knew the turntables were "turned on." His m.o. was more Motown than Rawkus, leading us swiftly from "Sucker MCs" into a freestyle over "The 900 Number" and then into "Here We Go" and "Beats to the Rhyme" in under 10 minutes. More than half the songs ended on the downbeat with a unison stab and the lights going dead, some thing that takes, um, a few rehearsals. (NOTE TO HIP-HOP PERFORMERS—LOOK UP "REHEARSE".) DMC didn't shout, oddly, or even rap audibly, but when he took his shirt off, it was obvious he hasn't been eating donuts since "Down With the King" dropped in 1993. (Run said a new album is coming out next year on Arista—"We aren't on Profile any more. We went from the pit to the penthouse.") And DMC looked awful cool standing there in his Cazals, arms folded. Pure Las Vegas hokum? Nostalgia? Crystal Ship? Maybe, but it felt more like a challenge to current hip-hop to stand up, make its name, and claim a voice that doesn't depend on envy, fear, or titillation for its volume.Sasha Frere-Jones

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