Hot Buttered Jazz: Celebrating the Genius of Isaac Hayes
Although it’s packaged with a typically cheesy title and gratuitous cover image, Hot Buttered Jazz: Celebrating the Genius of Isaac Hayes is a mighty enjoyable CD from saxophonist Kim Waters, who is known for his production of the Streetwize series of smooth-jazz-meets-hip-hop. Waters, a solo artist in his own right, embraced the late Hayes as a friend; indeed, Hayes sang on some of Waters’ records and acted as a mentor to Waters. Hayes, after all, could play a mean saxophone, and did so on many Stax projects straight out of Memphis.
This tribute, whose main players are Waters and Chris “Big Dog” Davis, begins with the Shaft theme, part of a four-part suite from the movie. The biggest surprise within is “Café Regio’s,” a new smooth-jazz classic that guest Norman Brown absolutely nails with his familiar, fluid style. Highlights are everywhere: Davis’ jazz piano on “Joy”; the never-sounds-old rendition of Hayes and David Porter’s “Hold On I’m Coming”; Waters’ somber sax on “I Stand Accused”; and the wise instrumental take (except for a choral refrain) on “Never Can Say Goodbye,” as no vocals could ever come close to Hayes’ version—or even the Jackson 5’s.