NEA Jazz Master Louis Sedell Hayes was born May 31, 1937 in Detroit Michigan. He was always surrounded by music, actually first starting with the piano, before his father gave him a set of drums at age 10. A cousin noticed his talent, took him under his wing and made sure that his approach to the instrument would serve him well. And well it did, for after developing his skills in the fertile musical ground of Detroit in the 1950’s with the likes of Yusef Lateef, Kenny Burrell, Doug Watkins and others, Louis found himself at the tender age of 18 in New York as a member of the great Horace Silver Quintet. His first recording with Horace, the classic Six Pieces Of Silver would introduce him to the jazz world as a new force to be acknowledged. Louis continued to enhance his reputation with Horace from 1956 until 1959 when he joined Cannonball Adderley where he propelled the quintet to joyous musical heights and timeless recordings through 1965. He joined piano master Oscar Peterson from 1965-67 during which time he and bassist Sam Jones became known as the “dynamic duo”, recognized as the most powerful rhythm duo in jazz. Louis would rejoin Oscar in 1971 for a year. For the next decade or more he became leader or co-leader of a series of electrifying groups which included musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Barron, Junior Cooke, Woody Shaw and Dexter Gordon. Louis also spent several years touring with McCoy Tyner. The Louis Hayes Group with Herald Mabern and Frank Strozier culminated four years of artistry with the album; Variety Is The Spice which received five stars, truly an accomplishment during a period when his style of hard driving, “bebop” was less preferred. He continuously traveled throughout the United States, Europe and Japan making musical history wherever he performed. Louis has played and recorded with jazz greats such as 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 others. He has had numerous honors and awards, here is just a sampling: • The Down Beat
New Star Award – 1961 • State Of Louisiana Special Recognition Award -1986 • State Of Michigan Special Tribute 1996 • The Society of the Culturally Concerned Appreciation Award – 1996 • The Greater Jamaican Development Corp. In Appreciation Of – 1996 • Spirit Of Detroit Award -2004 • Life Time Achievement Award From Bakers Keyboard Lounge – 2004 • United States House Of Representatives Special Tribute – 2004 He has been leading The Cannonball Legacy Band, which pays tribute to the gifted art form of that heritage and The Jazz Communicators for over a decade. Recent engagements of note would include The Kennedy Center for the Arts, The JVC Jazz Festival, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the Chivas Jazz Festival in Brazil. His latest recording “Crisis” (Savant) was released in 2021 and features Camille Thurman on vocals, Abraham Burton on tenor saxophone, Steve Nelson on vibraphone, David Hazeltine on piano, Derzon Douglas on bass and the master Louis Hayes on drums. The liner notes for this recording were written by Maxine Gordon. Recently, Louis Hayes was named and NEA Jazz Master. A ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC will be held on April 1, 2023.