Like his old-school contemporaries Jimmy Cobb and Mickey Roker, drummer Louis Hayes elevates the music from within, using finesse and hip nuance rather than playing on top of it with overt chops. It’s the same supportive role he assumed with such bandleaders as Yusef Lateef, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson and half a dozen other major figures in jazz. As a bandleader in his own right, Hayes surrounds himself with an abundance of talent in alto-sax burner Vincent Herring, rising star trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Richie Goods and pianists Rick Germanson and Anthony Wonsey. And he fuels this superb hard-bop session with a relaxed yet authoritative swing feel in tackling several tunes associated with Cannonball Adderley, in whose band Hayes provided the rhythmic thrust alongside bassist Sam Jones from 1959 to 1965.
Hayes flaunts his supple swing chops on the jaunty opener, Quincy Jones’ “Jessica’s Birthday,” which features a bristling, high-energy solo from Pelt, then plays it funky on Bobby Timmons’ “This Here,” which Herring positively eats up. Pianist Wonsey provides the requisite funk comping and soloing on this 1959 soul-jazz hit for Adderley while Pelt delivers another highly charged trumpet solo, quoting briefly from Cannonball’s “Work Song.” Hayes shifts back to uptempo swing on Victor Feldman’s “Lisa,” which both Herring and Pelt respond to with obvious delight.
Elsewhere the Legacy Band tackles such familiar vehicles as Nat Adderley’s “Little Boy With Sad Eyes,” Cannon’s soul-jazz anthem “Sack O’ Woe” and Sam Jones’ “Unit 7.” Sparks fly from the horns of the two eager frontmen along the way, particularly on a blazing rendition of Charles Lloyd’s “Sweet Georgia Bright,” which contains the lone drum solo on the recording. Trumpeter Pelt also contributes the touching flugelhorn ballad “The Two of Them,” which he dedicates to both Cannonball and Nat Adderley and which Hayes underscores with his inimitable touch with the brushes.