Born in London, Haynes began his musical career in the 80’s performing mainly as a percussionist with jazz luminaries such as Steve Williamson, Courtney Pine, Jazz Warriors Big Band and jazz drummer Clifford Jarvis’ Prophets of Jazz. Performing with such talented musicians had a profound effect on Haynes’ ideas and approach to music leading him to focus on writing in his own unique style, playing alto-saxophone and studying more African folkloric music and drumming styles. Trips to New York, Cuba and around Africa were a natural progression to enhance his learning of traditions such as Yoruban religion which has been celebrated and practised by artists as diverse as Alice Coltrane, Airto Moreira and Carlos Santana.
He initially played with a standard quartet jazz ensemble and, as his sounds began to change, Kevin wanted to include more precision and vocal harmonies to his music. He handpicked musicians from all over the UK from different backgrounds whom he believed were able to implement his vision.
Back from his global travels, Kevin was spotted by French label, Native Music, performing at the Jazz Café with his new band Grupo Elegua. The label then went on to sign them for the band’s first album release in 1997, entitled Tomorrow’s Path. Guest artists included Clifford Jarvis and a young Robert Mitchell on piano. Alex Wilson and Larry Bartley guested on piano and double bass respectively. Nico Gomez performed bass and percussionists were Lenny Lawrence and Trevor Kentish.
The next recording came in 2002 in the form of Ori Ire on his label Egbe Oduniyi Productions. Notable musicians on this work include Benet McLean on piano, Neville Malcolm on double bass, with Kevin himself on saxophone and bata drums.
Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua would go on to tour the UK and perform at the Jazz Café, 606 Club, Rich Mix music events and Portobello Jazz festival.
In 2011 Haynes was invited by the great Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes to perform at the Havana Jazz Festival. He performed the music of Grupo Elegua with a group of talented young Cuban jazz musicians, with the Cuban audience and the jazz community full of praise, nicknaming Kevin the African Charlie Parker due to his ability to obtain that retro sound.
The period 2014 -18 saw Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua performing at the London Jazz festival, Salamanca Jazz Festival in Spain, Portobello Jazz festival, Jazz re:freshed live residency and Ronnie Scotts. Recently Kevin has performed with the Moses Boyd band promoting Boyd’s album Displaced Diasprora.
Originally released on his own label in 2008, the third album by Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua entitled Ajo Se Po is re-released by Jazz re:freshed on 5th June 2020 with Diabel Cissokho on kora, included amongst the line-up.
Discography & Tours
1989: The Homecoming – Ed Jones (Acid Jazz) – Percussionist
1990: A Waltz for Grace – Steve Williamson (Verve) – Percussionist
1990: Grooving on a Four – David Jean-Baptist (Saxology) – Percussionist
1994: The Gift – Vaughan Hawthorne (TLM Records) – Percussionist
1997: Tomorrows Path – Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua (Native Music)
1998 Haynes tours Nigeria with British R&B star Caron Wheeler – Alto-sax
2001: Iwori Osa – Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua LP – (Egbe Oduniyi)
2002: Ori Ire – Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua (Egbe Oduniyi)
2002-2003 Tour of Europe with Keziah Jones – Percussionist/ Saxophone player
2004-2006 Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua tour Europe
2008/2009 Ajo Se Po – Kevin Haynes Grupo Elegua (Egbe Oduniyi)
5th June 2020 Ajo Se Po on Jazz re:freshed