Jazz Times called Louis Hayes, “one of the chief architects of modern jazz drumming.” He came up in Detroit playing with artists like Yusef Lateef and Kenny Burrell. In New York, Hayes joined Horace Silver’s band when he was still a kid and went on to play with many legends. Now Hayes is himself a legend, a 2023 NEA Jazz Master.
Louis Hayes in New York City
The Louis Hayes Quintet celebrates his 2023 NEA Jazz Master award and his new album, “Exactly Right” in an Uptown Nights performance; at Harlem Stage in Manhattanville, West Harlem; on Friday, April 21, 2023 at 7:30pm. From $25. harlemstage.org 🇺🇸
The lineup is:
- Louis Hayes on drums.
- Steve Nelson on vibraphone.
- Vincent Herring on saxophones.
- David Hazeltine on piano.
- Dezron Douglas on bass.
This uptown night celebrates the release of Hayes’ upcoming album “Exactly Right” and his 2023 National Endowment of the Arts NEA Jazz Master Award. That’s a great night. It’s an uptown night. YouTube
Hayes is a New York jazz man, and this program is sponsored in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with the City Council. You got to love New York.
The Call of the Drum
Louis Sedell Hayes was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 31, 1937.
Music runs in families. If its something mom and dad did, then you were born into it. Mom played piano. Dad played drums and piano. It turns out Prince, the legendary rocker, is a cousin.
Motor Town was one of the destinations of the Great Migration of African Americans (1910-1940). Motown is famous for the African American record label, Motown Records that was a major pop music force in the 1960s-70s, but before that Detroit was famous for jazz. That’s what Louis was born into.
Hayes got his first drum set at 10 years old, and starting learning from a cousin. He listened to big bands on the radio, and especially liked bebop drummer Philly Joe Jones (Miles Davis Quintet). We like Hayes’ comment that when he was coming up, he just did things that felt right. He really was born for this.
Louis was mentored by Papa Jo Jones, of the Count Basie Orchestra, who moved away from the hard bass beats of the Swing Era with brushes and keeping time on a cymbal.
At just 18 years old, Hayes made his name in New York playing with Horace Silver (Six Pieces of Silver). He later played with Cannonball Adderley, and Oscar Peterson. Hayes has been a leader since 1989, and has played with a who’s who of jazz. He’s also a co-founder of the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band.
In April 2023, Louis Hayes will receive the NEA Jazz Master Award at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It’s about time. In May, he’s 85 years young.
And now Hayes is mentoring a new generation of artists, because in the drum and in jazz, we are one big family.
Follow Louis Hayes at louishayes.net and on Facebook.
PS: This is straight-ahead jazz. You could say it’s not Latin, and you could be right. That’s an American point of view. From a Caribbean Latin point of view, where do you think jazz comes from? Yes, jazz is from New Orleans, but that’s a Caribbean city and the deeper roots of jazz are in the island of Ayití (AKA Hispaniola), and before that Mother Africa.
In New Orleans, they took away the Caribbean drum, and look at all the beautiful music we got. Out of that loss, we got the whole flowering of African American culture which is basically American popular culture.
Whether it’s Latin or not doesn’t really matter. We’ll quote Duke Ellington, “it’s all music,” and Louis Hayes’ music makes us all happy inside. Inside his drum, we hear the call. No matter how you play it, it’s still the same call of the drum.
Thanks to Harlem Stage for sponsoring jazz at New York Latin Culture Magazine.