A deserving recipient of the prestigious Jazzpar Prize in 1994, drummer Roy Haynes received a boatload of money from the government of Denmark, and gave command performances in Copenhagen, Toftlund, and Aalborg as recorded by the Danish Broadcast Corporation. Those concerts were edited to produce this single CD with Haynes and an exceptional group of European jazz masters led by Thomas Clausen. Dubbed "the Jazz Participants", pianist Clausen picked a fellow Dane in the peerless bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Swedish tenor saxophonist Tomas Franck to accompany him through a program of well-known standards and two new compositions from the bandmembers. Cemented solidly in the post- to neo-bop tradition, the band swings mightily under the rhythmic propulsion of Haynes, at the time celebrating his 69th birthday. The arrangements are marginal as the band gets to blow fairly free and easy, the tail-end originals being more scripted. The band breezes through a stack of standards, but they're far from nonchalant, closer to workmanlike. Franck's tenor sound is unmistakably similar to Michael Brecker during the smartly rendered, exciting title selection, or the straitlaced version of John Coltrane's "Bessie's Blues" with a flurry of notes coming from his horn. Clausen stands out on his finely crafted solo after the stock melody of "All Blues," Pedersen leads out during the tricky, rearranged "Rhythm-A-Ning" which is loose and not all that precise, while ballads "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "Skylark" are rendered with requisite sweetness, the latter a case study in how to play the brushes by the drummer. A solo discourse on the opening number by Haynes crackles with electricity, and he fires up the kettle with his usual drive and panache throughout without dominating. The originals at the tail-end of the CD feature Clausen's funky, rambling piano in a charted, contemporary Thelonious Monk/Michael Brecker amalgam during "A la Blues," while Franck's "Bright" again reflects the relaxed Seventh Avenue South N.Y.C. neo-bop that the Brecker Brothers developed in the '80s. These are cozy and comfortable recording of Haynes and friends, not challenging or over the top, but solidly in the pocket of modern swinging jazz, where Haynes has dwelled all his adult life.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos