Louis Hayes Quintet Featuring Cecil McBee | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Louis Hayes Quintet Featuring Cecil McBee

by

comment

LOUIS HAYES QUINTET FEATURING CECIL McBEE

The lineup drummer Louis Hayes brings to Chicago is almost identical to the one on his most recent recording, the terrific Quintessential Lou (TCB), and it sounds like it really belongs to someone else--namely Horace Silver, whose band Hayes joined as a precocious teenager in 1956. But Hayes isn't stealing from his old boss so much as showing off a well-earned credential: he had almost as much to do with the considerable success of Silver's mid-50s quintet as the bandleader himself. Though Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, and Roy Haynes get most of the attention for creating the bop and hard-bop drum sounds that still undergird much mainstream jazz, it's almost impossible to imagine Silver's down-and-funky compositions, or the soulful solos they inspired, without Hayes's buoyant combination of emotional intensity and rhythmic insouciance. He often sounds as if he's doing nothing but stating the beat and keeping it fresh, but one track on Quintessential Lou--a lovely, relaxed version of the chestnut "Tenderly"--makes it clear how much more actually goes on in his playing. Behind each soloist Hayes creates a distinct feel: first, playing with saxist Abraham Burton, he opens a bag of tricks on brushes; then he switches to sticks to lay down a steady pulse for trumpeter Riley Mullins; then, during pianist David Hazeltine's solo, he juggles three quite different (and difficult to sustain) rhythmic motifs in a subtle but remarkably complicated pattern. He does all this without distracting from the soloists--and on a ballad, of all things. Hayes's horn men echo the bluesy brashness of the Junior Cook/Blue Mitchell tandem that fronted Silver's band during his tenure--and Burton especially plays with a seasoned command beyond his 30 years. Hazeltine, a Milwaukee native and former Chicagoan, concocts liquidy harmonies behind his own solos as well as theirs. To up the ante for these shows, Hayes has replaced the album's bassist with the legendary Cecil McBee, whose rangy technique and expressive tone played a key role in Charles Lloyd's quartet in the mid-60s; he collaborated with Chicagoans like Muhal Richard Abrams, Lester Bowie, and Chico Freeman in the 70s and 80s, as well as saxist Joe Lovano and fascinating Japanese pianist Yosuke Yamashita in the 90s. Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, May 20, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

NEIL TESSER

Add a comment