By Andy DoerschukPublished July 30, 2009
Brush with greatness from 6:30–8:30 p.m. this coming Thursday, July 30, when jazz drumming legend Louis Hayes appears at Harlem Speaks, an ongoing series of lectures presented at The National Jazz Museum In Harlem. It will be a rare opportunity to hear his story, still being told, of a glorious past, a vibrant present, and an ever-promising future.
For more than 40 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. Hayes, himself an authentic architect of post-bop swing, began his professional activities in 1955 at the tender age of 18. He started with tenor saxophonist, flautist, and oboist Yusef Lateef, who like Hayes is a Detroit native. After the stint with Lateef, Hayes went on to propel groups led by pianist Horace Silver, legendary saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, and pianist Oscar Peterson. These positions were augmented by countless recordings on the Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, and other labels with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Wes Montgomery, Cedar Walton, Dexter Gordon, Woody Shaw, George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, and a plethora of others.
For the last 20-plus years, Hayes has led or co-led some of the most uncompromisingly swinging groups in all of jazz. Each unit has displayed tight-knit harmonic cohesion and hard-driving consistency as part of its signature.
With so much activity in his past, Hayes could easily rest comfortably on his laurels. But being a forward thinker and doer, Hayes operates “in the present.” His recent groups contain some of the cream of the young jazz crop. Saxophonist Javon Jackson and Abraham Burton, young trumpeter Riley Mullins and other stellar players are among current members of the Louis Hayes Quintet.
Louis Hayes possesses an embarrassment of riches. Try to attend this historic occasion in NYC on Thursday. The National Jazz Museum In Harlem, 104 East 126th Street New York, NY 10035. 212. 348-8300.