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Louis Hayes

By Published: September 25, 2005
AAJ: Everybody was recording with everybody at that time. Bethlehem Records had a whole bunch of people and everybody would sit in with everybody else.

LH: Exactly. That was what was happening. And it was so great. And living in this area, there were so many great artists right in this area. You could walk around and see all the guys.

AAJ: There were people all over the place. And there were a lot of places to play. That was a golden time, the '50s.

LH: Yes, it was a wonderful time. I was doing those things and I stayed with Horace until '59. And (bassist) Sam Jones...we were appearing in Birdland on 52nd Street one of those nights that they had the session night. I forgot what night they used to do it, but every week they would just have guys coming in and just play together. So I was there with Jones; Bobby Timmons, piano, Hank Mobley and Booker Little played trumpet. And Sam asked me and Bobby, he said that Cannonball (Adderley), who was at the time with Miles, was going to form his group again...this was the second time. He said, "Would you have eyes? Would you think about that? So I thought about it and I had been with Horace for those three years. I switched up and I went with Cannon and Nat (Adderley). (And) I'm glad I did. That was a really wonderful experience. I enjoyed being with Horace all that period of time because Horace was wonderful. I mean, I learned so much from Horace Silver and we still are very close. But going with Cannon and Nat—I mean, it was like a family.

Miles used to come and ask me to join his band when I first went with Cannon. I couldn't do it. I wanted to, but I just couldn't do that (to) Cannon, you know. But that was 6 years with Cannon. And in that time a lot of different things happened. After Cannon, Sam and I went with Oscar Peterson in '65. Oscar's a wonderful person. I had never been with a trio before and when I went Ray Brown was still there. So I had the opportunity to work with him. What a guy! So I went with Oscar and Sam came right in. We were very, very close. They used to call us "the rhythm section . We made quite a few records together; people wanted the opportunity to play with Sam Jones on bass and Louis Hayes on drums. We just got along like that. It was just one of those things that just happens where you just click. Sam was with Oscar after I left.

I left for a period of time and did some other things. Freddie Hubbard lived upstairs from me for years in Brooklyn; we were very good friends and were always getting into something together, sometimes it was nice and sometimes it wasn't but it was always a lot of fun. I was doing things with Freddie and then I went back with Oscar in '71 and did another year (or so). After that I started having my own bands and I did that. We traveled in Europe and Freddie and (tenor saxophonist) Joe Henderson and myself were back and forth. But then, things weren't going as great as I wanted it to and my daughter was ready to go to college, so I switched up.

I went with McCoy Tyner who wanted to have a trio. I said, "Perfect. Get me out of this fix . I went with McCoy and did that with him for over three years. That was in '85. Wonderful guy, McCoy. We got along very well together... we were very, very busy all the time. Then I started having my own band again. And basically since that time, I've had my own band, since around '89. James Browne, who runs Sweet Rhythm, one day said to me, "Louis, you're the only one still alive from Cannon's original band. Could you put it back together again? So we went into his club and had these different alto saxophonists every night. But Vincent Herring—he had been appearing with Cannon's brother Nat for years—who I knew, got together with me and put this Louis Hayes Cannonball Legacy Band together. That's what I've been doing for the last two, three years. We've only recorded once for an Italian label and we've been traveling around, this year Newport, we just left New Orleans and we were at the Clifford Brown Festival.

AAJ: Now, you're going to be at the very intimate Upper West Side club Smoke in September, with a trio.

LH: ...Now that's something different. Sometimes I just do different things. This is going to be Louis Hayes' Trio with Devon Jackson (tenor saxophone) and Ruben Rogers (bass). No piano. Just tenor sax, bass and drums!

AAJ: It must keep the juices flowing to do different things and different times rather than same old, same old, because you've been at it a long time...Even touring, because that's hard.

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