In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. Each year, The Academy invites friends and colleagues of Special Merit Awards recipients to pay tribute to the honorees' career accomplishments, while also adding colorful anecdotes and personal accounts. In the days leading up to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY.com will present the tributes to the 12 Special Merit Awards recipients for 2011.
As a musician with both feet firmly planted in the rock vernacular, the opportunity to perform a set with Roy Haynes and a cast of jazz greats was more than a little daunting. In 2008 at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, daunting though it may have been, I joined bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Nicolas Payton, saxophonist James Carter, and the inimitable Haynes for some really amazing takes on my Phish songs "Magilla" and "Cars Trucks Buses."
I was more than a little nervous backstage getting set to jam with some of today's most impressive players, anchored by a drummer who's played with some of music's true giants, guys like Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Lester Young.
But a quick rehearsal backstage and any fears were lifted. Graciously, Roy interpreted my tunes with the baddest grooves and a sensitivity that only he could provide.
I probably shouldn't have been surprised by that, or concerned about how the performance would go. Roy has played with so many of the biggest names in jazz that his chops are matched by his generous professionalism.
Roy has been in the center of the jazz universe for more than 50 years. His résumé is filled with ridiculously amazing accomplishments. He was a member of the Charlie Parker Quintet, spent time with the great John Coltrane Quartet in the '60s, toured behind everyone from Sarah Vaughan and Stan Getz to Chick Corea and Pat Metheny, and has gigged with Miles Davis, Art Pepper and Dizzy Gillespie. Quite a résumé.
All the while, Roy was cutting some great recordings of his own, including excellent records like When It Haynes It Roars! and the more recent Fountain Of Youth, recorded appropriately when Roy was a young 79.
Roy was 83 when I played with him that night in New York — still vibrant, still a terrific player and as, always, a tremendous ambassador for jazz and all musicians. That night was one of the great thrills of my professional life.
(Phish keyboardist Page McConnell played with Roy Haynes at the Jammy Awards in New York on May 7, 2008. Phish was nominated for a Best Rock Instrumental Performance GRAMMY in 2000 for "First Tube," off their Farmhouse album. In 2007 McConnell released a self-titled solo album.)
The Lifetime Achievement Award, established in 1962, is presented by vote of The Recording Academy's National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording. To view a complete list of Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, click here.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Julie Andrews, Juilliard String Quartet, The Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton, Ramones, George Beverly Shea
Trustees Award: Al Bell, Wilma Cozart Fine, Bruce Lundvall
Technical GRAMMY Award: Roger Linn, Waves Audio Ltd.