Louis Hayes Pays Homage to Horace Silver on 'Serenade for Horace,' His Blue Note Debut
Louis Hayes has logged his share of session hours for Blue Note Records, as the impeccably swinging drummer for label stalwarts like Grant Green, Curtis Fuller and, indelibly, Horace Silver. Now comes his turn in the driver's seat: Hayes will make his Blue Note debut as a leader with Serenade for Horace, due out in May.
As that title suggests, the album is a tribute to Silver, the pianist and composer with whom Hayes first made his name during the mid-to-late 1950s.
He was all of 18, a recent transplant to New York City from his native Detroit, when he joined the Horace Silver Quintet -- first appearing on the 1957 album 6 Pieces of Silver, which yielded a hit single, "Señor Blues."
Hayes went on to back Silver at the 1958 and '59 Newport Jazz Festivals, and provide the rhythmic fire on classic albums like Further Explorations by the Horace Silver Quintet ('58), Finger Poppin' with the Horace Silver Quintet ('59) and Blowin' the Blues Away ('59). This was a period of unsurpassed excellence for hard-bop, in terms of both artistic standards and commercial appeal. Hayes stayed at the center of the movement even after leaving Silver.
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By Elzy Kolb
DRUMMER LOUIS HAYES IS A MAN with a past and an eye on the future. From the get-go, he has played with a stunning array of musical giants across multiple generations. In his early years, Hayes' hometown, Detroit, was bustling with players such as bassists Paul Chambers and Doug Watkins, drummer Elvin Jones, pianists Barry Harris and Tommy Flanagan and saxophonist Yusef Lateef. "They triggered my desire to play," he says. "I didn't just hear them and play with them; I also recorded with them. They were older than me, but I got to New York the same time as they did."
Hayes left the Motor City for the Big Apple in 1956. "It was an exciting time," he recalls, "being in New York and being exposed to a generation much before me: Jo Jones, Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich, Coleman Hawkins. What an opportunity to be exposed to them and to the next generation!"