Louis Hayes: “Serenade for Horace”
Blue Note Records – B071R5F5F4 (2017)
Josh Evans (tp)
Abraham Burton (s)
David Bryant (p)
Dezron Douglas (b)
Louis Hayes (d)
Steve Nelson (vib)
Producer: Don Was – Dezron Douglas
Executive Producer: Maxine Gordon
2. Señor Blues
3. Song for My Father
4. Hastings Street
6. Juicy Lucy
7. Silver’s Serenade
8. Lonely Woman
9. Summer in Central Park
10. St. Vitus Dance
11. Room 608
Your best friend.
You never wish to leave their side. You spend all your time together, go to the seashore with pastries for breakfast, walk together on the seashore and want to hate the same boring movie together. You drink a couple of bottles of beer together with the influence of the music playing in the background, sitting on a bank together in the park you visit during your trip abroad, and you ‘try to’ not set fire to things while heating up your grill together. You share your deepest secrets with them, ones you wouldn’t share with anybody else, you try to face their hardships with them, by their side, or at least try to come up with a constructive solution or provide guidance; you understand their problems without exchanging any words, just from the look in their eyes. You don’t need to ask in length “Are you free this Sunday evening? There is a game on, you can come earlier and we can have a dinner together and chat?” to invite them to watch your favorite team’s match; all you need to do is to say “You are coming on Sunday.”
Then something happens, some distance gets in the way. Usually this happens to be a ‘physical distance’. Those times when you have fun together are now long gone. You meet new people and get close to them. You are mostly happy, but you cannot help but think of your friend. You think “Whatever!” despite everything, “My friend will be waiting for me somewhere out there.” That is because friends are good.
Born on the 31st of May in 1937 in Detroit, Michigan, Louis Hayes started playing the drums when he was gifted a kit by his father when he was 10 years old. Hayes’ friendship with Horace Silver is a great example to the kind of friendship I wrote about above.
Louis’ talent for music and especially rhythm was discovered by his cousin, whose help made it possible for the drummer to gain recognition among local jazz musicians. He then ‘matured’ by working with legends such as Kenny Burrell and Yusef Lateef. Louis walked by Horace Silver’s side, from the years when jazz started to change its facade in 1955 when he was only 18, to 1959 when jazz reached its peak. Louis guessed that all his great achievements would come to him while standing by his friend Horace, and he recorded a Blue Note album with the band just a few months after he joined them: “6 Pieces of Silver”.
This album, which received much acclaim from the listeners, brought along 4 other albums which Louis recorded with Horace for Blue Note in 3 years: “The Stylings of Silver”, “Further Exploration”, “Finger Poppin” and one of the albums that defined what might be the most important year in jazz history, 1959; “Blowin’ the Blues Away”. Louis gained recognition in the jazz world with “6 Pieces of Silver” and was on his way to become a beloved and much respected drummer.
After many years of recording solo albums and albums as a sideman that were released by various different labels, Louis stepped on the star-studded stages of Blue Note for his first album a few weeks ago. The drummer proved to the jazz lovers that he hasn’t forgotten about his old friend Horace Silver with his album “Serenade for Horace” and showed his love and deep respect for Silver. His remarks prior to the album release seemed to support this: “I wanted to do this recording for Horace Silver because I wanted jazz fans to hear his music and I wanted to honor his memory. Horace and I always stayed in touch ever since I first worked with him. When he got to the point where he wasn’t feeling too well, I went to see him and one day he said to me ‘Louis, you’re a part of my history.’ I thought about what that meant and I began thinking about how to take Horace’s music and his legacy into the future.” The biggest reason this album came into being might as well be this private conversation between two friends.
Louis and Horace immortalized “Señor Blues” and “St. Vitus Dance” together, both of which are pieces worth paying attention to in this album. Another surprise is the performance of Gregory Porter, who has been on the rise in the recent years and was called the best male jazz vocalist by music authorities, of Horace’s famous jazz standard “Song for My Father”. “Juicy Lucy”, “Silver’s Serenade” and “Lonely Woman” are my favorite pieces in this album which are very easy to listen to.
Louis flew away from underneath Horace’s wings after “Blowin’ the Blues Away” and has worked with Kenny Drew, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Grant Green, Dexter Gordon and many other jazz musicians, possibly becoming the most recorded jazz musician after Ron Carter. Hayes is a favorite of many jazz listeners, one of the most prominent drummers of both his and our times. “Serenade for Horace”, recorded with a relatively young lineup, is an album not to miss.