Louis Hayes Smokes!
New York, NY
November 1, 2003
New York City's got a hot jazz nightclub called "SMOKE", located at 105th & Broadway. www.smokejazz.com. SMOKE Jazz Club and Lounge has been around since 1999 and today presents perhaps the swinging-est jazz jam in the City every Monday night. "We are proud to announce that SMOKE is now smoke-free, so if you're gonna have a cigarette, please step outside," the MC announced.
It was an unusually warm November night in Manhattan, in the 70s. We took a subway uptown to check out legendary drummer Louis Hayes and his Cannonball Legacy Band. Mr. Hayes kept the rhythm going for Cannonball Adderly's band during the the late 50's through the mid-60's, some of Cannonball's hottest years.
Inside the one-room SMOKE club, my brother Addison and I move towards the front sidewalk window. A well-dressed, unassuming gentleman was reading the latest newspaper issue of New York's "All About Jazz" monthly. As we introduced ourselves, we come to find out it's none other than the MAN himself, Louis Hayes. "I'm gettin' older and I'm not taking care of myself...I'm just havin' fun!" he laughed, squeezing a rubber ball to keep his hands strong.
"Nat Adderly wrote all the music," Hayes confided. We discussed Cannonball's incredible last release, "Phenix", which feautured Louis on drums, George Duke on keyboards, and brother Nat on trumpet. "There were some nice melodies on that one," smiles Louis.
Hayes early on, hooked up with Yusef Lateef, who like Hayes, is a Detroit native. Hayes told me Horace Silver got him to move to the Big Apple many years ago. Since then, Hayes has performed on countless recordings for Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside and other labels with the likes of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Jackie McLean, Wes Montgomery, Cedar Walton, Dexter Gordon, Woody Shaw, George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Oscar Peterson and many more. (For more great recordings, check out: www.fantasyjazz.com and www.bluenote.com.)
As the band began to sift in, so did the audience. Before long, the room was packed. Louis made his way to the bandstand. And man, what a band! Vincent Herring (sax), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Rick Germanson (piano), Gerald Cannon (bass) and Louis Hayes on drums.
Vincent and Jeremy sounded so awesome together. There's magic in the swingin' sound of trumpet and alto. The rhythm section was incredible. Louis Hayes, at age 66, was tight and in the pocket. Swingin'!
The band soufully performed one beauty after another. "Jeannine", "Naturally", "One For Daddy-o"...all tight, but loose. The band members each took a solo to spotlight their talent in the 75-minute set. Tonight they were doing three sets.
As Louis told us earlier, "Man, last time I played here, I didn't get home until 11:00 a.m. the next morning. My wife was gonna kill me. But tomorrow's our anniversary, so after tonight's sets...I'm out the door!", he laughs.
Check out Louis Hayes the next time he comes to your town. And keep an eye out for trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. He's incredible. He's got his own CD out called Close To My Heart on the MaxJazz label. Sax man Vincent Herring was his usual swingin' self. But the man of the evening was the bandleader and respected elder statesman of jazz, Mr. Louis Hayes.