Monday, September 11, 2023

Joel Haynes - The Return!

I'm really excited to feature this new music on my blog! Joel generously sent me a copy of new CD last week and its been on heavy rotation around my house lately.

The Return! is Haynes' highly anticipated follow-up to his excellent albums Transitions and The Time is Now that features Seamus Blake (tenor saxophone), Tilden Webb (piano) and Neil Swainson (bass).

I first met Joel while I was a student at McGill University back in the mid-90s. In fact, he was playing the drums on the very first gig I ever attended in Montreal, an evening of Blues & Ballads at a long defunct jazz club on St. Laurent Blvd called Cleo's. The band featured Joel on drums, Kelly Jefferson on tenor saxophone, Tilden Webb on piano and Dave Watts on bass and of course it was swinging! Almost 30 years later, these guys are still some of my favourite musicians anywhere. Joel was burning that night and instantly reaffirmed and validated my decision to move to Montreal.

A couple years later I convinced Joel to give me a drum lesson up in the McGill practice rooms. He was the first person who hipped me to Billy Drummond!

If you are in the Vancouver or Toronto areas, check out Joel and his band on these dates:

The Return! Release dates:

September 8th & 9th at Frankie’s - Vancouver, BC
September 10th &11th at The Rex - Toronto, ON
September 12th at The Jazz Bistro - Toronto, ON
September 14th &15th at Hirut jazz cafe - Toronto, ON
The Return! is available to download on all digital sites starting on September 8th and hard copy CD’s available online at cellarlive https://www.cellarlive.com/, cdbaby and by contacting Joel at joel@haynesdrumstudio.com

Joel was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his new music.

Joel Haynes - The Return! - Four on the Floor: September 2023

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

Recorded at Monarch Studios in Vancouver. The band is Seamus Blake on tenor, Tilden Webb on Piano and Neil Swainson on Bass. The session went great and we just powered through all the tunes. We started recording at 10:30 am and finished at 3pm with a lunch break! Pretty much all the tunes were first takes.

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

I wanted it to be mostly originals so I wrote 4 tunes and arranged "Tomorrow Never Knows" and Tilden wrote 2 originals and he had an arrangement of "angel" that I wanted to do.

The Return - was named for the 15 year gap since my last recording

Peregrination - was named for the long journey it was between recordings

Tomorrow Never Knows - one of my favourite Beatles tunes

Allure - wrote my 4 originals on a 1 month cruise ship contract and the ship was "Allure of the Seas". Its meaning is "beautiful, attractive and fascinating", so I thought it was a perfect tune to name after my wife Lisa.

Angel - chosen for my mother in law that has survived 3 rounds of Chemo and 2 rounds of Radiation over the years and she's still with us at 90yrs old.

Payback - an uptempo minor blues with some lingering feelings of a situation that happened in the past.

SIDEMEN - Seamus was performing at Cory Weeds' "Jazz at the Bolt" festival last February and Cory called me up and he said, "Haynes! you told me to let you know when Seamus is in Canada and available" He mentioned that Neil Swainson was going to be there also and having Tilden was a no brainer! We've been playing together since 1989. We had a quick rehearsal to run down the tunes and two 1 hour sets that day at the festival. We recorded the day after at Monarch studios in Vancouver.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

I wanted to make a statement and a "return" from not having done my own record for 15 yrs. Seamus was on my last recording "transitions" and Tilden was on the last two of my recordings so it only fit to have them again. I also wanted my "dream team" rhythm section, so having Neil Swainson already in Vancouver and available at that time was a no brainer!

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

Not really, I just wanted to make a swinging album with amazing players again after 15 years.

5) Who are your influences with regards to your style of writing and playing?

Writing - Terence Blanchard, Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, The Beatles and Joe Henderson

Playing - Roy Haynes, Jimmy Cobb, Philly Joe Jones, Tony Williams, Bill Stewart, Jeff Watts, Elvin jones, Brian Blade and Troy Davis

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

Always the Syncopation book Pg 29-32 for limb independence, playing along with tunes and working on other peoples music for different projects.

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I just finished a recording session last week with vocalist John Neudorf's project. It was with Nancy Walker, Kevin Turcotte and Neil Swainson. I am also starting a series of drumline gigs playing for the Hamilton TiCats games, should be fun and you get to watch the game from the field : )

8) How do the drums and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

Very much so! I sketch out the tune first with what rhythmical angles, shots and pushes I want. I then sketch out the bass lines. If it's a swing feel, I'll just figure out what shots and pushes and if it's a straight 8th groove, I'll write an actual bass line. I'll then add the harmonic progression and form of the tune.

9) What drummers (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

I started out with Kenny Clark, Jimmy Cobb, Ed Thigpen and Philly Joe in my 1st and 2nd years then moved onto Roy Haynes, Brian Blade, Bill Stewart and Jeff "Tain" watts during my McGill Days. I was always playing along to Oscar Peterson's Night Train and Miles' Kind of Blue.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and jazz drummers?

Use your practice time wisely while at school, because you won't have that time when you're out of school. Also practice what you NEED to practice, rather than what you already have a handle on. Go play gigs and meet other musicians as much as possible. 

When I moved to Toronto from Montreal in August 2000, I subbed in any big band reading sessions or gigs so I could meet as many musicians as I could. I also called Terry Clark and introduced myself to him : )

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