Jazztimes NOV. 2, 2022
By ASHLEY KAHN
The distinguished drummer and NEA Jazz Master comments on Elvin Jones, Art Farmer, Ahmad Jamal and more
The last year has seen Louis Hayes notch a number of estimable career achievements. In July, he was named an NEA Jazz Master, an honor he will receive at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. next April. In May, he marked his 85th birthday. And in 2021, he released his 18th album as a leader or co-leader—Crisis (Savant)—with a title inspired by the current political and social climate, and a talented multigenerational lineup that speaks to his continuing stature: Steve Nelson, Camille Thurman, Dezron Douglas, David Hazeltine, Abraham Burton. His schedule remains steady—busy but comfortable: Hayes still hits the road to perform and to teach (in Denver and at McGill in Montreal in October) and appears at one of his usual Manhattan haunts, Smoke Jazz Club, in December.
Hayes’ history impresses both with its highlights and its musical consistency. A product of the postbop wave of the early ’50s, he kicked off his professional career at the ripe age of 15 in his native Detroit, where he rapidly developed a reputation for a distinctively melodic and economic approach to the drum kit; his skill providing complementary backing of soloists stood out from the start. His first big break came early—in 1956, at 19, when he was recruited to take on the drum chair in Horace Silver’s groundbreaking quintet, bringing him to New York City (he’s never left) and elevating him to the top rank of the jazz scene (he’s still there too). In his first two decades in the spotlight, he proved his flexibility supporting a wide range of headliners: Silver, Yusef Lateef, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner. He also developed a reputation as an effective team player with various bassists—Doug Watkins and Sam Jones, to name two. The Jones-Hayes connection was especially celebrated and long-lived, serving as the foundation of the drummer’s initial forays into leading his own collectives in the 1970s.
These accomplishments and others all came into play as Hayes participated in his first Before & After for JazzTimes, which took place in the big-band rehearsal room at New York University’s Jazz Department and was introduced by the program chair, composer/saxophonist Dave Pietro; more than 30 students were in attendance. After answering a few questions regarding his early days and musical roots—like noting his mother was an aunt to Prince Rogers Nelson—he proceeded to listen intently to each track and, for more than two hours, addressed his responses primarily to the students.
Some Before & Afters find the musician-on-the-spot digging deep into each track. With others, the responses are more about who than what, the music triggering stories and memories and lessons of the past. This one proved more of the latter type, with Hayes slipping noticeably into the present tense at times when speaking of departed friends...
Sat 12 Feb 2022
In his long career, Louis Hayes has been the drummer of choice for Oscar Peterson, Cannonball Adderley and Horace Silver, to name but three, and has led many of his own bands. Although not one of your flashy, upfront drummers, he has an unmistakable style: excitement tempered by poise.
His latest band is a quintet, its members drawn from the current New York jazz scene. The slightly gruff sound of Abraham Burton’s tenor saxophone and the ringing tones of Steve Nelson’s vibraphone make a nice tonal contrast, and they’re both fresh and engaging soloists. Pianist David Hazeltine is best known for his own trio albums (some with Hayes on drums), but he plays his supporting role in the rhythm section immaculately, emerging for the occasional, elegant solo. Bassist Dezron Douglas and Hayes seem to have worked up one of those bass-and-drums partnerships that become pure intuition. That’s why the whole thing swings so effortlessly. As if all this weren’t enough, there’s a very good guest singer, Camille Thurman, in two numbers. I tried to pick out the best from these 10 tracks but, believe me, they’re all equally good.
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December 01 2021
There’s an air of baton-passing to this tasty album by the drummer Louis Hayes. He is among the few living musicians to have played on the classic Blue Note albums of the Fifties and Sixties and treats us to a few tunes by his labelmates, including Lee Morgan, Bobby Hutcherson and Freddie Hubbard. Hearing the 84-year-old lead his much younger sidemen through these numbers gives us hope that this is a flame that will keep burning.
Hutcherson’s spiralling samba Roses Poses is a natural fit for the vibraphonist Steve Nelson, who refreshes the simmering rhythm with a shower of notes. Abraham Burton steams in on saxophone, turning up the heat, before David Hazeltine’s percussive piano solo underlines the Latin aspect...
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BY LUDOVICO GRANVASSU | Mondo Jazz
December 25, 2021
For more than forty years, drummer Louis Hayes has been a catalyst for energetic, unrelenting swing in his self led bands, as well as in those whose respective leaders reads like an encyclopedia of straight ahead post-bop modern jazz.
Listen to "Crisis" >>
By Jack Bowers 2021
Louis Hayes—who has been a force in jazz drumming for more than sixty years, anchoring legendary groups led by Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, among others—has assembled a quintet of New York City's finest for Crisis, wherein he pays musical tribute to some of his jazz colleagues, past and present, including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Farrell, Lee Morgan, Bobby Hutcherson and two members of his working unit, vibraphonist Steve Nelson and bassist Dezron Douglas. The studio date opens with Farrell's Middle Eastern-leaning cooker,...
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By Rob Crocker, wbgo.org 2021
Drummer Louis Hayes's first recording session was in 1956, on Horace Silver's Six Pieces of Silver (Blue Note). If that's all he had on his resume, you'd feel compelled to buy his new album, Crisis (Savant). But there was more, much more. From there, he weaved through jazz like a long vital thread traveling through a gorgeous suit. He appeared on dozes of the classic albums in the 1950s and beyond...
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By Ed Enright, Downbeat 2021
The latest album from Louis Hayes, recorded back in January, sports a title that seems completely appropriate for the COVID era from whence it sprang. Named after an early-’60s hard-bop tune by Freddie Hubbard, who was a close friend and contemporary of the veteran jazz drummer, Crisis is intended as a tribute to all of Hayes’ past and current colleagues. In addition to the title track, which deftly shifts grooves from swing to Latin and back again (à la “On Green Dolphin Street”), the program also includes classic material penned by jazz royals Bobby Hutcherson (“Roses Poses”), Lee Morgan (“Desert Moonlight”) and Joe Farrell (“Arab Arab”)...
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Jerry Jazz Musician, June 14th, 2019
Louis Hayes "I would like to offer the following four records which were made on Blue Note.
1. Six Pieces of Silver by Horace Silver
2. Blowing The Blues Away by Horace Silver
3. Serenade For Horace by Louis Hayes
4. Undercurrent by Kenny Drew"
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by Natalie Weiner
Pitchfork, FEBRUARY 22, 2019
"Drummer Louis Hayes, now 81, was playing with Cannonball Adderley in the late '50s, and Adderley brought the band to the South to perform at historically black colleges. Hayes, who was based in New York at the time, doesn’t recall any specific discrimination—but he does say they never stopped anywhere overnight outside of the universities. "It was five of us in two cars," he says. "We just changed drivers and kept going.""
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Horace Silver: 6 Pieces Of Silver: ONE LP is a project by photographer William Ellis in which musicians and other people in the arts are portrayed with a favourite album and tell why the recording is so significant to them.
"This LP was recorded in 1956 with Horace Silver (I chose it) because it was my first. When I first came to New York I had the opportunity to record this album and I enjoyed all the music that he had written for it so it will always be one of the most special albums I’ve ever recorded - Horace Silver and all the musicians that participated on the album."
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Music by Prince's father featured on new album, tracking 'that DNA thing': John L. Nelson's daughter has produced a CD of his tunes played by jazz all-stars.
Star Tribune, March 10, 2018
By Jon Bream
"But this story is not about Prince; it's about his late father, John L. Nelson. His music is about to get discovered — or rediscovered — via a new CD lovingly put together by his oldest child, Sharon Nelson. It's called "Don't Play With Love” by the John L. Nelson Project. It features seven of his compositions interpreted by a top-notch instrumental band led by distinguished jazz drummer Louis Hayes, who has played with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, among others, and happens to be Nelson's nephew..."
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Washington Post, January 2018
By Michael J. West
While drummer Louis Hayes has been known to take a solo or two -- it was two at the Kennedy Center's KC Jazz Club on Friday night -- he's more likely to drive from behind. Best known for his stints in the 1950s with Horace Silver and in the 1960s with Cannonball Adderley and Oscar Peterson, Hayes is a catalyst, channeling his boundless energy into the band itself and being frugal with Blakey- and Roach-style pyrotechnics.
As he demonstrated at KC, playing a supporting role doesn't mean he will be ignored.
"Serenade for Horace," the first tune played by Hayes's quintet, featured hard-swinging solos by every other member: vibraphonist Steve Nelson; tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton; pianist Anthony Wonsey; and bassist Dezron Douglas. Hayes didn't need one himself. His personality was unmissable in his accompaniment, full of thudding bombs on his bass drum, accented change-ups on the snare and a ride-cymbal sound that was as much a lash as a hiss.
His playing retained that character, and a fair bit of volume, throughout the set. But it never became domineering. Instead, it nicely spurred on Burton's mighty tirade on, for example, "St. Vitus' Dance." On "Bolivia," Hayes meshed with Nelson such that he and the vibist seemed to be playing a duet, the drummer adapting and accenting Nelson's rhythms with seeming telepathy. He didn't quite establish that level of rapport with Wonsey on what followed -- it was clearly a solo, belonging to the pianist -- but neither did he miss an opportunity to spice it up, raising the temperature on the ride cymbal and forcing Wonsey to respond in kind.
Even on the set's ballad, "Darn That Dream," Hayes was difficult to miss. He switched to brushes and stayed away from Nelson's warm, declaratory lines, but his playing was ever-present, with a sensuous sweep at times offset with pitter-patter. He resumed stickwork on Wonsey's solo -- Burton laying out -- making the cymbal shiver, along with this listener's spine.
All that said, Hayes did indeed take two solos, and if they showed impressive chops, they also, and perhaps more so, betrayed his fealty to the rhythms of the songs. Most of "Bolivia" found him rolling out the groove, just as he had been under the other soloists, albeit with more rack-tom and snare-drum rolls, before briefly coming to a boil near solo's end. He did the same on the set-closing "Cookin' at the Continental," re-centering on a different drum with each of his eight choruses: a clever trick that masked how carefully Hayes maintained the tune's blues structure. Two tasty morsels, but no more; a master drummer need not overwhelm to make an impact.
2017Louis Hayes, Bright Moments
Jazztimes, November 2017
By Aidan Levy
139: Louis Hayes (Cannonball Adderly, Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, etc.)
September 13, 2017
Louis Hayes arrived in New York at age 19; and over the next 60 years amassed a staggeringly great body of work. His collaborators have included: Cannonball Adderly, Oscar Peterson, John Coltrane, and many more of the giants of modern music. Louis talks to Joe about growing up in Detroit, lessons in manhood from Papa Jo Jones, the difficulties that come from being an uncompromising artist, and his new album dedicated to the great Horace Silver.
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.
Louis Hayes, Serenading Silver - By Russ Musto, New York City Jazz Record
43 DAYS AGO Louis Hayes @ Ronnies - An 80th birthday celebration gig!
Louis Hayes, Looking to the FutureHot House Magazine, September 2013
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!"