Louis Hayes Interview by Monk Rowe – 1/29/2000 – NYC

Louis Hayes Interview by Monk Rowe – 1/29/2000 – NYC


We are filming in Manhattan today. My name
is Monk Rowe with the Hamilton College Jazz Archive. I’m very pleased to have Louis Hayes
with me, one of jazz’s great drummers. LH: Monk, it’s a pleasure to be here.
MR: Band leader and composer on occasion, and it’s really a pleasure to speak with you.
I was fortunate to see you at the Iridium last night, and some of those tempos were
just – talk about hard bop, I mean, very, very hard.
LH: Yeah, that was a lot of fun, and especially starting off the night like that. When I was
much younger, Freddie Hubbard and myself, we used to do that. What was the tune we used
to play? “Just One of Those Things.” We used to start off like that. That was nightly,
just to get yourself loosened up and get yourself together. A staggering pace, I mean, fast
as you could go. And really challenging. MR: I feel sorry for the bass player sometimes
actually, when it goes on and on. But you expend an awful lot of energy too.
LH: Yes. MR: But have you ever had a problem with keeping
up that for very long? LH: Well actually no I don’t. Because I practice,
and I warm up every day before I come to a job. And I like practicing. Now when I was
a youngster naturally I had problems keeping up. But once I grew up a little bit and came
through, started getting a little older and getting a little more experience and I got
to the point where I could handle it, I’ve never had a problem since. Because I’ve always
stayed in shape. And when you practice for a long period of time then it’s not that big
of a deal. But naturally, and I don’t spend too much energy as far as moving around physically
– my head and body and everything – I’m more or less a person that just deals with less
motion as possible. MR: I notice on occasion it looks like you’re
singing, or speaking to yourself as you play. LH: Yes. Now see I noticed that on video cameras.
I never knew it was coming out like that… MR: Oh really.
LH: …until somebody videoed me, and that is something that just happens.
MR: You’re not saying anything specific then? LH: No, no. Although sometimes I might be
thinking about I’ll be glad when this guy stops soloing. But I think it’s just a facial…
MR: Yeah. Well sometimes it also looked like you were mouthing the melody with the guys
too, which may have happened. But I always like to watch that kind of group. I mean this
wasn’t a group that works together a lot. LH: No.
MR: But on occasion you guys would lay into something, and I was wondering like, well,
is that rehearsed or is that a lick that’s kind of standard with the song. Like I wrote
one down and it went [scats]. And you were playing that with the horns and behind somebody’s
solo. I can’t recall the tune though. LH: I don’t know what it could have been because
we didn’t rehearse. But it is – music, this art form, when you know the guys, it does
have a language. And everyone who can play, and know each other and play on a certain
level, you know the language to this art form. So you can do things that the audience might
think it’s been rehearsed but actually we didn’t rehearse. It’s the first time, actually,
since we’re doing this job, that we’ve played together. And McPherson, he lives in San Diego,
and had a lot of problems with the weather when he was coming in so he didn’t arrive,
we opened Tuesday, but he arrived Wednesday. So we didn’t do any rehearsing.
MR: Well you grew up in a pretty musical atmosphere. LH: I did.
MR: Detroit was a good city for music in general? LH: Yes it really was. My father played piano
and drums, and my mother played piano. And I started out playing piano, actually started
out with playing piano. Most kids started out playing – because the piano is in the
homes mostly. So I did that for a while. But the piano to me was, at five or six, it wasn’t
fun. I think doing anything, if it’s too complicated or not fun, and someone has to more or less
as a job make you do it, that causes a problem. And piano causes me a problem. But drums were
there in the house also, and I started just playing drums and drums were fun to me. It
was actually fun. And I realized that kids that were older than I was playing drums,
how much difficulty they were having doing certain things, and I looked at them and it
was easy for me. So that made me, I felt good about that, because I could accomplish things
real fast that they were having a lot of problems with. And then I had a – had, now he’s passed
away – a cousin, that he played drums very well. He didn’t come to New York. If he’d
a came to New York in the 40’s he would have been very well known. His name was Clarence
Damps. But he didn’t. And he started teaching me. And I learned a lot from him. That’s how
I really started getting together was him teaching me these things.
MR: Yeah. Was there a point, let’s say in high school, that you decided that you were
going to be a musician, for a living? LH: Yes, yes. I say I was about fifteen. I
had been playing before then, but by the time of fifteen I knew that that was what I wanted
to do was play. MR: And was this the time you played with
Yusef Lateef? LH: Yes. Well I’d been playing much before
then. Actually I had my own group. One day my mother sent me to help this lady wash her
windows. So I went over and this lady and her husband were managing a teenage club.
So we had got in this conversation, I told him I had a group, so he hired me to bring
a group. And that’s when I started. But I was playing before then, little dances and
they used to have, what do you call it, street dances where they’ block off the street and
people would have them – things like that, and at school I’d play. But when I first started
putting a band together was then. I played at this teenage club in Detroit. And I was
about maybe fifteen or sixteen then. And then from there, and Detroit, it was a very competitive
place. And the older musicians, they were sort of on such a high level, the musicians
that I was looking at, like Tommy Flanagan and actually Yusef and so many of them, Kenny
Burrell. But they didn’t realize that I played drums though, because I never would play around
them, I had my own compadres that I was beating up on. So anyway I played at a couple of teenage
clubs. Then with Yusef I was working I this club, a night club, and I wasn’t supposed
to be in the club because a person, you’re supposed to be 21 to work in nightclubs, and
I was about 17 or 18. But this club owner, he liked me a lot. So when Yusef got the job
he said to Yusef you can have the job but Louis Hayes, you have to take Louis with the
job. Yusef didn’t know me at the time. So he came over to my mother’s house, where I
was staying at the time, and he said you’ve got the job but I’m going to give you a six
weeks trial, which was fantastic – six weeks. That was great. So that was Yusef and Curtis
Fuller was playing trombone and Hugh Lawson piano, and Ernie Fail was the bassist. And
I went in with them and I had a wonderful learning period until they found out how old
I was eventually. And then that was the end of that job. But right after that I had another
job in another club. But after that I was in this place called The West End which was
a place in Detroit that guys, it was an after hours place. And Kenny Burrell, actually his
wife at the time, her name was Laura, I think it was his first wife, and her family owned
this restaurant. And it was an after hours place, a place that had good food, and a place
that musicians came after their job at night, after two o’clock, and played all night until
five or six in the morning. And there was anotherr place also that musicians who came
from New York and thought they were on such a high level, they would invite them out to
this club and unless you were very special, you’d be embarrassed out there. So I was playing
out there this one night and Kenny Burrell and Doug Watkins, who had left and they were
living here in New York but they were back home for whatever reason, and we had an opportunity
to sit in and play with them that night. So when they came back to New York the Jazz Messengers
were disbanding, and Horace Silver was starting his group and Art Blakey was keeping the name
the Jazz Messengers and they were separating. So Doug was appearing with Horace at the time,
so Arthur Taylor was the original drummer when he first started. But Horace, so I understand,
and Arthur, they didn’t get along at all too great together. So Doug Watkins says well
I know a person, let’s get the baby boy out of Detroit. So Horace called me, and I thought
one of my buddies were playing a little joke on me. So I didn’t think it was really Horace
Silver calling me up. I was 19 years old I think, he was calling me up. But it was Horace.
So that’s how – that was in ’56, in August of ’56 – so that’s how I first came to New
York. MR: And you have played, well you played on
“Sister Sadie” with him? LH: Yes.
MR: And all the great tunes over the years. Was his style – semi-funky at the time – something
that you had experienced before or have any trouble assimilating to?
LH: Now Horace, I learned so much from him, but we were in tune and it wasn’t any problem
from the beginning. It was very comfortable, very relaxed. We would rehearse at his apartment
and he had these different albums that he asked me to listen to, and that was very – an
experience – because these albums that he asked me to listen to, Art Blakey was on,
and so that was a big challenge to be listening to Art Blakey and that was what I was supposed
to replace. But no, Horace was very easy going and I really didn’t have – I wasn’t uncomfortable
at all. It took me actually a little time to really start growing, to become where I
was able to get strong enough really to feel comfortable handling things. With Horace,
the album at the time he called them, I could really see my growth in the albums that I
made with Horace. I could really tell from the first one until, I did five with him before
I left in ’59. And I could really see my growth and listen and hear my growth when I was appearing
with Horace. MR: You went on to play with who I consider
one of the great saxophonists of all time, and record Nat’s great tunes –
LH: Numerous. MR: How did that gig come about?
LH: Well in the original Birdland on 52nd Street, I don’t remember which night it was,
but every week it was like a session night. Monday night, or one of those nights like
that . So this night I was appearing there with Hank Mobley, tenor saxophone, and Booker
Little, trumpet, Bobby Timmons, bass and Sam Jones – Bobby Timmons piano and Sam Jones
bass. And Sam was in Cannon’s first group, so we had a very nice time, with Sam, it was
the first time we played together, but we were very compatible. So Sam asked me would
I consider joining Cannonball’s band. So I started thinking about it. So we went back
and forth, because with Horace, we were so close in the band at the time, we were very
comfortable with each other, because everybody knew after a period of time that’s what happens.
But I was considering making a change, I was young and I was thinking about doing something
else. So that sounded very interesting to me. So eventually I did. And I’m very glad
that I made the change, that was another experience, and Cannonball and Nat and Sam and myself,
we became such good friends, and we were so close musically, and we were on stage and
off, I mean the best of friends. I mean we hung out all the time. And with Cannon we
got to be so close, with that group it was like a family. We were together all the time,
even when we came home, came back to New York, we had parties. The band was the first ones
that was invited, the band and their families. That’s who we played with, who we partied
with, between the record company, it was Orrin Keepnews at the time, and John Levy was taking
care of the management business, so we were just that close, that kind of a group. I know
Miles used to ask me every once in a while to join, to come and join his group at that
time. And I really wanted to – you know, Miles Davis. But I couldn’t do that because Cannonball
and Nat, we just were too close. MR: Did the band rehearse at all?
LH: Yes, we rehearsed, but it wasn’t like Horace though. Now Horace rehearsed quite
a bit. And when he went into the studio Horace – we had played the choruses, played the compositions,
so all the little things were worked out, what we were going to do. But with Cannon
it wasn’t like that. Cannon was more spontaneous. We rehearsed, we had it together, but everybody
was so talented we didn’t – it was more spontaneous. We didn’t rehearse all the time like that.
MR: Did you have a feeling when you did some of the tunes like “The Work Song” and “Jive
Samba,” that these were going to be hits? I’m not sure how you define a hit in the jazz
world. LH: I understand, yes.
MR: But did you go away with a feeling like man we’ve got something there?
LH: No, I didn’t. And sometimes, I know myself, sometimes – I enjoyed the playing, good music,
I always enjoy, especially when you’re playing with creative people like Cannon and Nat and
Yusef and Charles Lloyd and Sam Jones. But sometimes I didn’t, I thought the stuff was
kind of square, especially “The Work Song.” MR: You thought it was square, yeah.
LH: Yeah. MR: You want me to go buh buh?
LH: And this was something, you know, we had to play this every night, doggone it.
MR: That’s great to hear. You just never know. LH: Yeah. Because I was much younger, and
I wanted to be, you know I’ve tried my best to be as creative as possible, and some of
those things I had to learn about business. Music is a business. And so I had to kind
of start getting it together and learning about that because I was looking at it just
for fun and being creative, and I wasn’t looking at things that way a lot of times at that
time. MR: Yeah. I mean so that’s a learning experience
in itself. LH: Yes.
MR: If you want to be successful sometimes, you can’t play exactly the way you had envisioned
at certain times. LH: Yes. At certain times.
MR: Yeah. Can you tell me anything about this album? Was there anything about Cannonball
and Nancy that stuck out in your memory at all?
LH: Well this was another thing that just – well I would say that Nancy being from Ohio,
I think it’s Columbus, there was a club there had some numbers, like 502 or something like
that. And I had appeared there with Horace Silver actually in ’58 or like that time,
and I met Nancy there. And Cannon had appeared there also with Miles Davis, and he knew Nancy
Wilson and they got to be close during that time. So when Nancy came to New York she got
in touch with Cannonball and she became very close with Cannonball and Nat and Nat’s wife
Ann. They became very close. So this record date was something where we didn’t rehearse
a lot doing this date. We put together things – we put this together in the studio most
of the time, we didn’t have a big rehearsal, and it just came together. But it was so comfortable
that – there was another person in Chicago, disc jockey, his name was Sid McCoy. And Daddy-O.
There was two of them. But Sid McCoy especially, we all were very close. And Sid McCoy really
played this album a lot. And Cannonball and Nancy, we had such a rapport, and people,
this was the album that just took off, and everybody loved it. So we did a lot of concerts
together at places, Cannonball and Nancy. And it started out, it was amazing. It started
out like that, Cannonball and Nancy. We did a lot of things together, we had a great time,
a lot of history. But then I noticed the sign changed to Nancy Wilson/Cannonball. That’s
what was very interesting. But that relationship with Nancy, that was a wonderful, great relationship.
MR: Yeah, it was tight arrangements, even though you say that they were a bit spontaneous,
but I mean you could tell that you and Sam were like this.
LH: Right. MR: What was it – Joe Zawinul replaced Bobby
Timmons? LH: No, I think he replaced Victor Feldman.
MR: And Wynton Kelly was in there somewhere too.
LH: Wynton Kelly, but he wasn’t actually with the group but we recorded together. I can’t
recall the name of the album at the time, but we did record together. I think Bobby
Timmons was the original pianist, and then Barry Harris was there, that’s right, Barry
Harris was there for a period of time, and then Victor Feldman. And then really the major
pianist was Joe Zawinul. He was there for years, at least ten years.
MR: Yeah. What was he like to work with? LH: Joe was wonderful. Joe, actually, Joe
when he first joined the band Joe was kind of nervous, because he hadn’t been in that
situation before. He had been appearing with Dinah Washington, which was – Joe’s facilities
were marvelous, but that was a little different accompanying a vocalist naturally. But this
was, with Cannonball, it was every person for himself. You had to be ready, creative,
you know. Everybody was on their own. So Sam and myself, we used to have these meetings.
Because we were so close, you know, friends. So we would have these meetings and sit in
the room at night, after the job, and discuss these things. And Joe, he was a little nervous
at first, but he worked out just wonderful, worked out just fine.
MR: Good writer. LH: Oh great, great. And a marvelous, interesting
person. You know he’s from Vienna. And him as a person, Joe is a very – we got along
so well together. We were very close, good friends.
MR: Right. Well you went from there to kind of a different situation with Oscar Peterson.
LH: Yes. MR: How did the piano trio differ from the
Cannonball thing? LH: Well that was for me, Oscar being on the
highest level a person can be on in this art form, you know Oscar is, and he was like that,
he was very consistent. He was like that every night. And he’s such – everything is so great
with Oscar. Him as a person, the way he carried the trio, being around, being in his company,
everything was a great experience. But I wasn’t as comfortable with Oscar as I was with Horace
or Cannon because with Horace and Cannon it was horns and I had my freedom to be creative
and then play and do exactly what I wanted to do at all times. It was never – I had no
restrictions on me at all with Horace or Cannon. Anything that I felt like doing, go for it.
I mean just do what you feel like, please. But with Oscar it was more or less like – how
should I put this – star, co-star situation, where he was leading and he wanted the rhythm
section to accompany him a certain way. So that was more of a problem for me, because
for the first time I had these restrictions. And that, I mean playing with him was a great
experience. But that did, I felt, limit my creativity to a point. So it was harder for
me to deal with Oscar because it was so demanding but then again I had to really think about
what I was doing more. MR: Yeah, and that maybe I have to limit some
things that I would like to do. LH: Exactly. Right. Yes.
MR: Did this have any play on the fact that shortly after that you became a co-leader
and leading your own groups? LH: Yes. Because with Oscar I – I did it twice,
went back. The first time, after Cannon was – ’65 – and I went with him again, until something
like ’71, ’72 or around that time. But before, now Freddie Hubbard and myself, we were very
good friends. We were the same age. So we lived in the same building in Brooklyn. So
we were creating. He was upstairs and I was downstairs. So we were with each other and
creating and making music all the time. So that was something that I really was enjoying
doing at the time. Naturally playing with Oscar, that was my job. But with Freddie,
we were having so much fun. I wasn’t making that much money with Freddie, but we were
making history. We were having a lot of fun, me and Freddie Hubbard. So I was doing that
all the time, and we had this group we had he called The Communicators. It was Freddie
Hubbard and Joe Henderson and Kenny Barron, pianist, and Herbie Lewis was the bassist
originally. So Freddie and myself, we, over the years, we played together for all these
years and we’re still doing it. So that’s what I was doing. But after that, it was Cedar
Walton who lived around the corner in Brooklyn from us. And he had been in Europe with his
quartet. And when he came back he said to me one day that this person from Holland,
whose name was Whim Wit, asked him about me bringing a group over. So at the time I didn’t
have a group. So I put one together. I got Junior Cook and Ron Matthews and Stafford
James, and then we got Woody Shaw. So it was the Louis Hayes-Junior Cook Quintet featuring
Woody Shaw. And that’s the way that came about. And I got this, also I knew this lady, her
name was Maxine Craig at the time, who originally was Maxine Gordon, Dexter Gordon’s wife, but
she was managing it. We went to Europe, and that’s how I started having my own bands.
That was the first one. MR: Was it a different experience to be making
decisions, and what kind of decisions did you have to make as leader?
LH: Well musically I was making decisions, and I felt very comfortable doing that. In
that role I always felt comfortable with the guys and they felt comfortable with me, and
I had this lady for management, see? So one of the problems I feel is – naturally working
all the time is a major problem – but in that situation everybody really getting along – it
seems like it’s very hard to get a group where everybody’s really compatible over a long
period of time. Because people – we were young and people have these different ideas about
things and directions they want to go in, and so that can cause different things – everybody
makes changes. So that’s what happened. We were together for a period of time and then
it was time to make a change. So Woody got his own group and I made a change and got
a quartet at the time with Frank Strozier and Harold Mabern and Stafford James stayed
there for a period of time. And now that quartet – both things were very creative. I enjoyed
the group with Junior and Woody and Woody was actually so talented, Woody Shaw, boy
he’s such a great player. And he recorded this tune that I had written for my wife entitled
“Nesha.” And he played it so beautifully, I mean that’s one of my favorite things by
Woody. And with Frank Strozier, he was so talented with that group. I mean he’s … but
that group, I felt like that group should have really taken off. But business for some
reason wasn’t taken care of right with that one so eventually we disbanded and it came
apart. MR: I’m curious. This was mid-60’s?
LH: No this was into the 70’s. MR: Okay. It was kind of a tough decade for
jazz, wasn’t it? LH: Exactly right.
MR: Yeah. And there was a lot of different things happening, of course you’re coming
out of Coltrane and you had some free jazz and you had soul jazz. Did this band have
a definition of what you played so when your manager went to try to find work for you – I
guess what I’m trying to say is did you label yourself?
LH: No we didn’t label ourselves. But we were – the group with the quartet with Frankie
and Harold we were so actually dynamic, and so much power, and we knew that we had this
ability to perform on such a level that we felt like this is it, this would work. Because
when we would appear opposite anyone, they were in serious trouble, I mean the group
was very dynamic. It was – Harold Mabern was something to look at, and he was so percussive.
And Frank, I mean Frank is so knowledgeable on the saxophone. And so when that group broke
up, Frank was so disappointed he stopped playing. And he stopped playing piano. And naturally
he was a school teacher, so he was teaching school, and he was trying to get out of that
teaching school thing. And he went back to teaching. He was so disappointed, and he gave
music up and he stopped playing the piano. And actually that was in the – I think the
late 70’s or 80’s or early 80’s or 70’s. And he hasn’t, I don’t think he’s ever got the
saxophone out or played again since then. He was very disappointed.
MR: Yeah. It’s too bad. LH: Yes.
MR: Well you recorded some marvelous records, you and Woody and I wanted to read a quote
that someone wrote about you in one of the jazz encyclopedia type of things, and see
if you think this sums you up. It says “Louis Hayes plays in a compelling forceful style
marked by a tendency to push the beat and to goad the soloists with frequent fills.”
LH: Yeah, that’s, yes. MR: All right, good.
LH: Yes. I feel great about that, yes. Because I came up in a way where I felt I liked being
accompanist but I like doing it on my terms. Because this art form, I always wanted to
play it, one of the reasons is because you can accompany a person but you can be your
own person, you have your own voice in doing that. So that’s what I really – one of the
things I’ve always, I mean the wonderful things about this art form, you can get your own
voice, you can have your own voice, and that is one of the main things that you are there
for, to do things your own way. So being able to accompany people, I mean soloing was something
that I have facilities, and you have to do, being a drummer, is take solos and things.
But originally I was thinking about accompanying. That’s the way I started out playing.
MR: Your solo last night in one of the tunes had a great kind of crescendo to it, you know,
it sounded like you were playing Bebop rhythms. But by the time you were – you had this impact
of almost constant sound. It was like, I don’t know how you were doing it, but it was nice.
LH: Thank you very much. Thank you, Monk. MR: The Dexter Gordon thing, you had that
classic album with him too. That must have been a nice experience.
LH: It really was. MR: At the Vanguard.
LH: Yes, yes. That was a great experience. That was with Woody. We had that group and
Woody, excuse me I mean Dexter, was staying in Copenhagen at the time, and also Slide
Hampton was living in Europe. So this lady Maxine, she talked to him about coming back
to New York at the time, and Dexter wanted to do that. But he didn’t have a group. So
when they put that together on, what was it Columbia? That album?
MR: I think it was, yeah. LH: Columbia – Dexter made this into “Live
at the Vanguard” and actually that was the Louis Hayes-Woody Shaw group but with Dexter.
People were – it was such a big thing, for Dexter to come back. I mean the club was just
packed every night, and it was such a warm feeling. It was a great experience. So we
did some more things with Dexter at the time, but I’m glad I had that opportunity to make
that history with Dexter at the time. MR: Yeah. He certainly had a persona to him.
LH: Oh he had, that was – MR: The way he spoke and just his movements
and all. LH: Exactly right. Dexter was one-of-a-kind,
that’s for sure. MR: Do you have any opinions about the jazz
scene today? LH: Well I feel like it’s a little more difficult
I feel for young artists to come here and get that experience working with bands that
have great leaders. During when I came along, I mean everybody feels you have to come along
whenever you’re born, but I feel like during that time it was still the last of it, but
it was still a time when you had a few bands out here that had great leaders. And you could
go from one band to another band and get that experience. Now speaking to like a person
that was my mentor, Jo Jones, Papa Jo, who came with Count Basie here, speaking to him
and him speaking to me actually, when he came here in the 30’s with Count Basie, that was
the greatest time of all. Now at least I mean with the big band, and I know he used to tell
me when he wanted to hear some musicians playing, he said, when they had those dancing girls
in front of the band, he said the guys were really foaming at that time. But when I came,
still the big band era had passed but they still had a lot of major leaders that you
could play with and you learned during that time. But now you don’t have a lot of groups
that have this fantastic – and leaders on eye level like during that time. So the record
companies, they take young guys and give them these contracts and make leaders out of people
that I don’t think are ready to be leaders. So actually, to me, people a lot of times
are too young to have really a strong direction. So to me it starts lowering the creativity
and the art form because they are making – and they’re looking over a lot of people that
are still able to really perform on a level, and they’re just going for the youngsters,
the younger musicians, and I think that is really to a point hurting the art form because
it’s putting people in positions they shouldn’t be in.
MR: Right. It’s a marketing ploy almost, and it’s not honoring the music as much as it
should. LH: Exactly. Yes. Yes. So I think that is
causing a little problem there. MR: And I guess the a number of clubs is not
what it used to be. It must be a little harder to … how do you find work?
LH: Well at this point I do several things. But mainly I have a group, a quintet, and
we just recorded two CD’s on the label TCB, on a label out of Switzerland. And one is
coming out March 14th and another one I’m not sure exactly when it’s going to be released,
that one. And I have this management team, a person that books Basil’s, James Brown and
Martha Burretts, that’s my management team. So I’m basically involved with my group and
I’m having a wonderful time with that and it’s growing. So that’s my main concern with
what I’m doing right now is that quintet. MR: Who’s in the group?
LH: Ronnie Mullins is the trumpeter, and Abraham Burton, he plays tenor saxophone, and Santi
Debriano, he’s the bassist, and Dave Hazeltine, he’s the pianist.
MR: Are you the most experienced guy in the band?
LH: I’m the oldest, and the most experienced actually. I remember when I was the baby boy,
that’s what [inaudible] as time goes up it changes.
MR: Wow. I have one little piece of music to play here.
LH: That’s what I just mentioned to you.
MR: Now as a composer, do you sit at the piano and work out things?
LH: No actually, I wish I could actually. But my piano facilities are not that great.
So I put this tune together in my head and I sang it in a tape recorder.
MR: I love that. That’s great, yeah. LH: And it gave me, I mean that was a job.
I mean I had this record date so I wanted to think of something. And my wife and myself
naturally we were close as could be. But sometimes we would have little problems, as men and
women when you’re married, so I’m trying to do something and think of something to help
get me out of this, on the good side. So I had to think of this, I had to write this
composition and dedicate it to my wife, very important. So I sat there on the couch and
I started putting this together. And I put it together and after I got it in my head
and I sang it in this machine, I went to the pianist at the time Ronnie Mathews, and I
explained it to him, and he made music out of it, put the chord changes to it, and that’s
how it came about. MR: That’s great. I don’t wish any more arguments
on you but if you come up with tunes, maybe the good times could lead to a tune too.
LH: Yeah my wife after she heard it she said “you didn’t write it, you didn’t write that.”
So I had to go and get that original singing and whistling I was doing.
MR: That’s great to have though. LH: Yes.
MR: It came from this kind of raw inspiration and look what came out of it.
LH: Yes. So after that she bought me this little thing, this little machine that I can
just click it on and when I have an idea right there, just sing right in to it.
MR: Great. Good story. You like playing overseas? LH: Yes, yes. I think it’s changed over the
years. And well I say it like this. Overseas I was working, especially with my groups,
more so than in America or anyplace else. I was doing Europe more than anyplace, because
we would go over for long periods of time, six weeks, and I had quite a few groups that
I’ve taken over there over the years. I had this person that was booking me over there
quite a bit. But I got to the point where the venues that I was playing in, I got to
the point where I didn’t feel like doing that anymore, playing in clubs. I wanted to do
more concerts and things, and I got kind of to the point where I’d done these other things
so much that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. So I just stopped going over. I haven’t been
going over lately. But I’m going back this summer coming up. My management team and the
record company put some things together. But they are festivals. So I’m going over to do
about four festivals this summer coming up. And I like that much more.
MR: Just to wrap up here, because I know you have to go to work, do you have any words
of advice for a musician who just graduated from Berklee and wants to be enmeshed in the
jazz world? LH: Well I feel that if you know you’re good
at what you do, it’s just something where it just takes being – you’ll find your way.
I always say to people if you are able to come to New York and be around for a while,
you will find just how you fit in, because there are so many different scenes. So it’s
just a matter of time. And if you have the talent, I don’t think it would be – and you
know that’s what you want to do. I think a lot of people are just not sure of what they
want to do. But when you really feel it you will survive and you will make it.
MR: You’ve got to be willing to pay some dues. LH: Yes, yes. And that can be – dues as they
call it can be very positive, especially, I know when I came up, I didn’t have any responsibilities
– no wife and kids or anything like that. So I was free to be able to make mistakes
and do things and be with my peers. But when you get to the point where you have a family
that’s when it can be a problem because that’s dues out there.
MR: It’s one thing if you’re hungry, but something else…
LH: That’s right. That’s a serious responsibility there.
MR: Well I want to thank you for your time, and I wish you the best of luck with your
band and the new CDs coming out, and everything in the future.
LH: Thank you very much, Monk, it was my pleasure. MR: All right.
LH: Thanks a lot.

One thought on “Louis Hayes Interview by Monk Rowe – 1/29/2000 – NYC

  1. Louis Hayes is a Jazz Treasure!!!! OMG all those incredible records mr.Hayes made with Horace, Cannonball,Coltrane,Jackie McLean,Dexter Gordon,Oscar Peterson, Freddie Hubbard and many others….thanks very much for sharing this video πŸ‘Œ appreciated very much πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ Louis Hayes πŸ₯ Forever πŸ—½

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