Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Louis Hayes: Crisis (Savant)

A review of the drummer's album featuring Steve Nelson, Abraham Burton, David Hazeltine, Dezron Douglas, and Camille Thurman

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Louis Hayes: Crisis
The cover of Crisis by Louis Hayes

The title of the latest album from Louis Hayes is, of course, a sideways reference to the global plague that felled many of his generation and kept the master drummer off the road for the first time in six decades. It’s also the name of a sprightly, color-shifting piece reminiscent of a time and place essential to his blossoming as a creative artist: the late ’50s in New York, when Hayes and the tune’s composer, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, lived in the same Brooklyn building. Begun with a brief back-and-forth between the drummer and his band, it works its way through a varied, mood-mixing theme before shifting into a solo for vibraphonist Steve Nelson, with tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton opening up on the extended outro.

On “Crisis,” as throughout, Hayes handily creates a foundation of effortlessly grooving, deeply rooted swing, in tandem with bassist Dezron Douglas, pianist David Hazeltine, and their bandmates. The leader shows off his chops as a composer on “Creeping Crud,” penned for his long-ago Horace Silver Quintet bandmate and fellow Detroiter, bassist Doug Watkins. Begun with a few seconds of trap-kit set-up, it’s a twisty bop melody, played in unison by Nelson and Burton, and offering solo space for everyone except Hayes. Two of the other players pitch in on composition duties with Nelson’s pretty, slow-churning “Alien Visitation,” featuring another exploratory vibes solo, and Douglas’ gently ambling “Oxygen.” Hayes salutes another trumpet-playing old friend, Lee Morgan, with the latter’s “Desert Moonlight,” highlighted by some provocative eights-trading.

Camille Thurman adds welcome contrast on a pair of tunes, applying her sophisticated, emotive vocals to the lush, melancholy “I’m Afraid the Masquerade is Over,” pouring it on for the finish, and injecting some well-placed scat lines into the bouncy “Where Are You?” Crisis? What crisis?

Learn more about Crisis on Amazon & Apple Music!

Bright Moments With Louis Hayes

Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. Sharkskin, the second album from his long-running band, Acme Jazz Garage, has aired on radio stations across the U.S.