Louis Hayes: Exactly Right!

Editor's Choice

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details


Louis Hayes
David Hazeltine
Steve Nelson (vib)
Dezron Douglas
Abraham Burton (ts)




Media Format:


Catalogue Number:

SCD 2206


Rec. 16-17 December 2022

Born in 1937 and still going strong, Hayes was named an NEA Jazz Master this year; this seen by some, including me, as a somewhat belated accolade, given his unswerving commitment to the hard bop style and his many career achievements. All that said, his continuing desire to play is once again evident in this spirited release, the usual hard bop template modified to place Nelson's vibes front and centre, the voicing with Burton, a Hayes sideman since 1998, pleasingly effective.

The title track by Hayes is a neat riff piece, the drummer puncturing the beat with cymbal splashes, prompting and guiding these soloists, Nelson thoughtful, Hazeltine crisp-fingered and Burton grainy-toned in the manner of his early mentor, Jackie McLean. Burton comes better into his own on the limpid version of Sergio Mendes’ ‘So Many Stars’, taken at ballad tempo with Nelson eloquent, Hayes puttering quietly behind them. Hazeltine's ‘Carmine's Bridge’ (which doesn't have a bridge) opens with the pianist displaying his boppish attack before Burton buzz-saws his way through its neatly declamatory outline, and Nelson explores over Douglas’ buoyancy. The pianist is suitably sombre on Shorter's ‘Nefertiti’, the mood one of restraint, Hayes playing a subdued jump beat, Burton billowing quietly. Horace Silver's ‘Mellow D’, a reference back to Hayes’ time with his band, moves splendidly and ‘Theme for Ernie’ again displays Burton’ s ballad mastery, this ahead of a surprising version of ‘Scarborough Fair’, given a gospel feel, with Nelson's vibes uppermost, Burton in soulful mood. Cedar Waltons’ ‘Ugetsu’ rounds out a rewardingly varied release. Not bad for an 86-year-old!

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