Louis Hayes

Louis Hayes Return of the Jazz Communicators Smoke Sessions ***

It’s extraordinary how a new label can quickly establish itself with a strong look. One of the nicest features of the Smoke Sessions releases so far are the street photos by Jimmy Katz adorning the covers, and as mentioned in an earlier review the artist interviews contained with the artwork add some personality. In conversation once again with Damon Smith who has also designed the album Hayes talks about the original Jazz Communicators, a band he played in alongside Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Kenny Barron, and Herbie Lewis initially in 1967 in New York. This “return” is I suppose a bit of a made-up thing as the ex-Cannonball and Oscar Peterson drummer is the only one playing here from the Communicators most sadly no longer with us. But communication is still the name of the game with the swinging Hayes on a set of a dozen tunes recorded at Smoke in November last year. Vibist Steve Nelson, tenorist Abraham Burton, pianist David Bryant, and bassist Dezron Douglas join the drummer (who was 76 when this was recorded), opening up with the attractive Mulgrew Miller number ‘Soul-Leo’. Nelson’s ‘Shape Shifting’ is the overall highlight but there’s plenty of choice (‘Lush Life’, ‘Without a Song’ among the standards, and a band-penned original or two including Hayes tune ‘Lou’s Idea’). A solid hard bop album to get your feet tapping and shoulders swaying. SG