Jazz CD of the Month: Louis Hayes / Return of the Jazz Communicators / Smoke Sessions

Jun 2, 2014

Legendary jazz drummer Louis Hayes and his band recorded a set of music last year at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City. The set draws the listener in with twelve numbers of sustained brilliance and is the "Return of the Jazz Communicators".

It swings!

Louis Hayes knows a thing or two about swing. He co-founded the Jazz Communicators with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard in 1967, after offering to present a summer's worth of performances in a club in Manhattan with a band that had not actually been founded at the time of the offer!

For the current lineup of the Jazz Communicators, the lineup is vibraphonist Steve Nelson, Dezron Douglas on bass, pianist David Bryant and Abraham Burton on the tenor, led by Hayes on the drums.

From the opening kick Hayes supplies on "Soul-Leo" it is obvious this is going to be a swinging date!  Steve Nelson's vibes are an essential part of this recording, especially on the reading of "Lush Life", one of the finest renditions of the Billy Strayhorn classic. It's heavenly. The young saxophonist Abraham Burton shines on "Without A Song" and the leader takes a fiery solo on the swinger "Shape Shifting". 

The ebb and flow of this live date is a perfect balance, recorded live on November 16, 2013 at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City. This is one of several releases on the recently established Smoke Sessions label which spotlights truly great nights of live music at the venue. This recording with Louis Hayes is arguably the finest release thus far on the label.

And that should not be surprising given the career history of the bandleader: Louis Hayes was born on May 31, 1937 in Detroit Michigan.  Detroit was an active ground for jazz musicians when Hayes was developing his skills in the 1950s. Having received a set drums from his dad at the age of 10, the young artist found early gigs with Yusef Lateef, Kenny Burrell, Doug Watkins and others on the Detroit scene. By the age of 18 Louis Hayes was a member of the Horace Silver Quintet, debuting on the classic Six Pieces of Silver.   

Hayes was an essential part of the Horace Silver band from 1956 until 1959. Then Hayes joined the Cannonball Adderley quintet where he recorded and performed with the band until 1965. A celebrated stint with Oscar Peterson from 1965-67 saw Hayes work with bassist Sam Jones. The drummer and the bassist became known as the  "dynamic duo", acclaimed as the most powerful rhythm duo in jazz at the time. In 1967 Hayes formed the Jazz Communicators, one of several groups the drummer has lead over the decades, which also includes The Cannonball Legacy Band.

Louis Hayes has  played and recorded with jazz greats including  John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, J. J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Wes Montgomery, Joe Henderson, Cedar Walton, George Benson as well as Ravi Shankar, John Lee Hooker and many others. For more information you may visit