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Louis Hayes

By Published: September 25, 2005
LH: Well, we have some great young artists coming up. People like Jeremy Pelt, the trumpet player and we have this other trumpet player from Pittsburgh named Sean Jones. I saw him the first time not that long ago at Dizzy's Club with the Heath Brothers. He's going to do some festivals with us coming up. And the drummer Nasheet Waits and his buddy, drummer Eric McPherson. They both impress me a lot. They're into it, they practice all the time. I used to practice all the time, too...

One drummer (the late) Tony Williams really impressed me. I first met him in Boston. Tony used to come from Boston and I lived in Brooklyn, just to hang out with me. Then Miles asked me about him and Tony went with Miles. We used to practice together. Tony Williams practiced more than John Coltrane. And John Coltrane practiced. When I lived in this area, Coltrane lived on 103rd and sometimes I would be in his apartment—he practiced more than anybody I've seen in my life, until Tony Williams who practiced so much he used to wear me out. It's really amazing how much he practiced. He practiced all day up until the job and then go play the job and come back at night and practice some more. Now that was one drummer that really impressed me.

AAJ: It often amazes me, as a general rule...the stamina that drummers have. I find that with a lot of drummers, as a rule -they've just got some kind of extra energy that other musicians don't have. What do you eat?

LH: I'll tell you what it comes from. You don't even think about it when you're in shape because you practice. I mean, sometimes, I practice now maybe 8 hours, maybe 9, maybe 5, maybe 6. But when you're used to doing it, stamina doesn't even play a part. I think the only difference I find within myself is when I was younger...up to I would say to about 40...if I didn't really warm up before I went to work, it really didn't bother me too much. But after about 40, I could tell, I started feeling and performing different. So I like to warm up before I start playing. I practice anyway but just before I go to a job, I like to warm up, get it together a little bit not just go cold like I used to. Hang out, drink and act silly—I don't do that anymore. That's the only difference. I still have pretty good stamina...'Cause one thing, you are the engine—you're playing through everything!

AAJ: You've been through a whole bunch of years of music and it never gets boring, does it?

LH: No, because it's always a challenge. Because depending on, what date you're playing, who you're playing with, the music you're making—it's a challenge, (and) you can't sound the same all the time. You never know how you're going to sound until you hit the stage and start playing, and I'm always a little tense sometimes before I start playing because of that. You don't know how your body is going to react. Once you start playing, you'll figure it out then. You know your body changes all the can practice real good sometimes and it still just doesn't work right. Other times, you're right. No problem. You just have a great time.

Photo Credit
Lars Bjorn

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