Interview: Louis Hayes (Part 1) - JazzWax

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October 19, 2010


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Larry Kart

Wow -- I'm only five years younger than Louis Hayes?!!

What I recall most about his playing back then -- as we felt it at the time (I include young musician friends here, among them a very talented drummer) -- was his glassily even, subtly lagging behind the beat ride cymbal work. This was unique I think (though probably with a basis in Kenny Clarke), and SO cool -- quite different in feel from, say, Philly Joe Jones' galvanic commentary. It was though something latent in the music had definitively been "rationalized"/stylized by Hayes, if you know what I mean.

In any case, this aspect of Hayes is especially apparent IIRC on "The Stylings of Silver" and Wilbur Harden's remarkable "Mainstream '58," which was the album that announced to us Coltrane's "sheets-of-sound" approach. Hayes' playing set off Trane beautifully there.


One of Silver's virtues was his ability to be very earthy and direct, and sophisticated at the same time. He also tended to flesh out his arrangements a bit more, compared to the often skeletal ones used by other small groups of the time. However, the Brown/Roach and Blakey ensembles had no shortage of "spirited" writers and arrangers. Benny Golson, for example. The late '50s and early '60s were a magical time for jazz and there was plenty of "sublime expression" to go around.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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