Louis Hayes - The Time Keeper

album review

18th & Vine

Release date: June 9th 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Louis Hayes: The Time Keeper cover

Louis Hayes, one of the best jazz drummers recording and performing today, has a pedigree that takes in his four years in the 'fifties with the Horace Silver Quintet (during which he appeared on the seminal Blue Note album "Blowin' The Blues Away") and collaborations with Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley and Oscar Peterson. From the 'seventies on he has led a number of outstanding groups, notably with Woody Shaw and more recently with David Hazeltine. Today, he is still working and performing out of The Bronx, New York.

"The Time Keeper" features Louis Hayes' current working band - Louis Hayes (drums), Abraham Burton (saxophone), Helio Alves (piano), Santi DeBriano (bass). They are joined by Steve Nelson (vibraphone) on four tracks.

There is a wealth of significant, high energy, self composed material that is centred on the best of hard bop with an intelligent and engrossing vibe. Louis Hayes' two pieces start the album - a reworking of "Check In", the Louis Hayes / Reilly Mullins composition that kicked off the 1996 Sharp Nine album "Louis At Large", and "Alani's World" with resonant doubled piano/ bass lines underpinning lyrical saxophone and Caribbean influenced drum rhythms.

Saxophonist Abraham Burton contributes the uptempo and Coltrane influenced "It's To You" and a quieter ballad, "Abellino". Bassist Santi DeBriano contributes "Save Yourself, a complex-rhythm swinger that makes impressive use of the lineup and the additional voice of Steve Nelson on vibraphone.

Of the non self-composed material, the readings of Horace Silver's "Peace" and "The Preacher" are surprisingly tentative given Louis Hayes' intimate knowledge of the genesis of these pieces. This is a great hard bop band but one that seems ill equipped, despite the addition of Steve Nelson, to get into that Horace Silver groove with any conviction. This, aside, should not distract from what is an outstanding album.

The two closing tracks more than underline this point of view. "Double Rainbow", the Antonio Carlos Jobim standard, is given a wonderful, full blooded treatment with especially notable sax playing from Abraham Burton that clearly recalls John Coltrane. Matt Dennis' "Angel Eyes" winds up the album on a high.

Louis Hayes will be appearing at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in August and at the Detroit Jazz Festival in September and is well worth catching.

Highly recommended, intelligent hard bop.

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