Monday, July 25, 2016


In 1976, the jazz pianist Cedar Walton fresh from a tour in Europe bumped into drummer Louis Hayes in Brooklyn. Walton told Hayes the jazz scene in Europe was happening, and a booking agent in Holland was serious about keeping the scene thriving. Walton suggested Hayes head over there, but Hayes was reluctant initially because he didn't have a working band back then. After giving Walton’s suggestion careful consideration, Hayes decided to go. Hayes hired two former members of pianist Horace Silver's band trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonist Junior Cook. Hayes also hired bassist Stafford James and pianist Ronnie Matthews. In today's jazz world such a line up would be marketed as an all-star jazz group. You'd have to contact Hayes for an accurate account of how many European cities the band performed in, and how long the band stayed together. If you’re curious about how terrific this band was High Note Records, recently put out a live recording Woody Shaw Louis Hayes The Tour Volume One, which captured a priceless sixty-three minutes piece of jazz history delivered by an all-star band that wasn’t seen as such in the late 70’s.  There’s no explanation why Shaw received top billing and why Hayes wasn't pictured on the album cover. However, in the liner notes, Shaw's son acknowledged the band was Hayes’s brainchild. The Tour Volume One has six cuts. The opener is The Moontrane, a barn burner that established the album’s momentum. The Moontrane was Shaw’s signature composition, and on this band’s performance of the tune Hayes was the focal point. Hayes was at the apex of his musicianship. The band dove headfirst into every subsequent cut. You'd be hard pressed to pick an MVP on this album because each musician, especially Matthews and James, played as if the world was ending immediately after the band’s performance.  Cook wolfed down the changes to Obsequious like birthday cake; Hayes had the drums speaking in tongue the entire concert, and Shaw governed from the upper register of the trumpet.

Post a Comment