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Hard bop drummer Louis Hayes has often been heard in memorable encounters with Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner (among many others). But he has an exceptional knack for assembling some of the tightest, most cohesive straight-ahead units under his own name.
Among Hayes's best group was this hard-bop unit he co-led with trumpeter Woody Shaw in 1976-77. For this edition, Jackie McLean's son, Rene, replaced the departed Junior Cook (another co-leader) with a rhythm section featuring pianist Ronnie Matthews, bassist Stafford James and, on two tracks, special guest trombonist Slide Hampton.
The program duplicates the original 1977 Muse album with two of trumpeter Tex Allen's fiery works ("St. Peter's Walk," "Marilyn's House), a long, lovely ballad by Hayes ("Nisha"), Matthews's "Loose Suite," James's "My Gift To You" and Jackie McLean's "Jack's Tune."
It is perhaps Shaw who makes the greatest impression throughout, offering many examples of his fine playing and sterling creativity. Hayes's superlative drumming never interferes but is always out front. However, the program may have benefited by more memorable tunes (the kind Shaw was always able to contribute). But what's invested here by all involved makes this appropriately titled (but at 37 minutes, too brief) hard bop album quite worthwhile. New cover art is nice too.
Songs:St. Peter's Walk; Nisha; Loose Suite; My Gift To You; Jack's Tune; Marilyn's House.