Roy Haynes: You Got to Have 'Ding Ding Da Ding' Within Yourself

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Roy Haynes: You Got to Have 'Ding Ding Da Ding' Within Yourself

SKF NOTE: This segment is from my interview with Roy Haynes at his home on November 15, 1978. According to my notes "It was raining, traffice was heavy, a chilly...evening, and I was nervous about meeting him. We had spoken on the phone a few times. The week before [this interview] I had seen Roy perform with the bassist and guitarist from his Hip Ensemble at a small Long Island, New York jazz club. The trio was hot. The music ran the gamut of emotions and it was always swinging. Roy Haynes is both amazing to watch and to listen to. He sat behind a set of Smokey Vistalite Ludwig drums, eyes closed in relaxed concentration, playing with that precise, crisp sound that earned him the nickname Snap, Crackle, Pop."


Roy Haynes: [Charles] Mingus used to say the damndest thing about me years ago. He'd say, "Well, Roy Haynes. Yeah. You don't always play the beat. You suggest the beat. I don't know what the heck I was doing, but I know that the beat is supposed to be there. If I leave out a beat -- it's still there. If I'm playing fours or eights or twelves, and I play four-and-a-half bar and leave out a bar-and-a-half -- that don't mean I don't want it to sound like that! But, if I'm playing with a horn player -- sometimes they get confused. They get hung up 'cause I didn't play a bar-and-a-half.

You got to use a little imagination in there. That bar-and-a-half still counts. I'll come out in the right place -- where it should be -- to make it even. And they're somewhere else at that point. I didn't always play the beat which I though was very good. You don't always have to say ding ding-da ding ding-da ding. You know? It's there. So if one of those saxophone players has to depend on that, then you know he's not right or something.

You've got to have ding da da ding within yourself. [John] Coltrane had it. [Lester Young] Pres had it. Miles [Davis] had it. So it's beautiful with them. But there's so many other people who don't have that thing -- and you got to carry them. Now how you gonna be inventive and create when you're trying to lift them up?

Scott K Fish: Life Beyond the Cymbals

SKF NOTE: September 20, 2015. I found this Roy Haynes Ludwig Vistalite ad in the May 20, 1976 Down Beat.

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Hi Todd -

During one of my conversations with Roy he spoke about the ride cymbal he used on Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, as belonging to Chick. I don't remember if our exchange was part of our interview - and therefore transcribed - or if it was an off-the-record conversation.

Point: My recollection is Chick owned the cymbal, brought it to recording studio, and asked Roy to use it.

The Now He Sings, Now He Sobs cymbal was small. 18" or 19" Paiste. When I locate the full transcript I'll look for that info. I also remember Roy saying the Sobs date "kicked my ass." :)

Todd -

I just re-read your cymbal question, realizing I didn't answer it in my previous post.

The Hip Ensemble album you refer to (Mainstream Records) was released in 1971. Roy was recording on the Galaxy label when I interviewed him in 1978. Thank You, Thank You was his current album at the time. Then he came out with an album called Vistalite.

It's funny, I have only a vague recollection of Roy playing the Smokey Vistalite drumset I wrote about in 1978. I do remember him at the same Long Island, NY club playing a Red Vistalite 4-piece set with Tivoli lights. Drummer/Drum teacher Charlie Perry chuckled when he saw those drums, asking Roy, "Is it Christmas?" The drumset below is not like Roy's set. It's simply to show Ludwig's Tivoli lights.


Also, around this same time I saw Roy perform in a large NYC venue. It might have been the Academy of Music or The Palladium. He was playing a multi-tom drumset, the size of the set shown in this Ludwig ad. I don't remember if Roy's set was a Butcher Block finish.


Finally, Roy had a white 4-piece Ludwig drumset for rehearsing in his home basement. It might have been the set shown in the photo below. He let me sit at his set, but I didn't play it. My takeaway was how raised Roy had his small tom. Moreno, I was surprised at his extremely loose bass drum pedal. Almost no spring tension at all.


I have almost no specific recollection of Roy's cymbal set up.

Finding out Roy played a Vistalite is crazy. Knowing he played one with Tivoli lights blows my mind. That's awesome.
I stumbled across a Roy Haynes drum solo clip on YouTube where he was playing a set of Vistalite's a few years ago. After a little searching I found the whole concert, there's two in fact. Both from Italian TV, the first from 1973 and the second from 1976, the second concert is with the set of Vistalite's.
Greetings from Maine. This morning I found more pages from my Roy Haynes interview with more details about Roy's Vistalite drums.


The first time I saw Roy perform he was playing a five-piece Vistalite outfit. A year later his set had grown! The two mounted toms had multiplied to six, one floor tom, and a single-headed bass drum. The set was augmented by temple blocks, Vistalite bongo drums, ratchets, a tambourine, and probably several percussion things Roy didn't happen to use that night.

"It's interesting." Roy spoke about his set. "With the set I have now, the see-through drums -- people love 'em! And somebody will come into a club and they'll get wrapped up with the drums right away. Even before you play you got it made," he smiled.

"I read a review about myself in some paper and the reviewer wrote, 'Roy Haynes' drums look better than they sound.' That's the worst thing I've ever seen about myself," he laughed.

"I like sounds," Roy said of the added percussion. "It adds, rather than just hitting the drums, seeing how great and fast you are."

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