Vermont Jazz Center welcomes ‘the pulse’ of the hardbop era

Thursday November 15, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Jazz Center presents the legendary drummer, Louis Hayes in concert with his New York-based quartet on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Hayes will appear with his Jason Curry, alto sax, Sharp Radway, piano, and Alex Claffey, bass.

Hayes was the drumming pulse behind some of jazz’s greatest luminaries, including John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver and the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. From his mentorship at an early age with Papa Jo Jones through his stellar career, there is no drummer on the scene today who can boast such a star-studded résumé. At 75, Hayes continues to lead his own hard-swinging ensembles in which he mentors young jazz artists.

Hayes’ sound came to maturity during the height of hardbop in the late 1950s and early 1960s while the sophisticated, lyrical language of bebop was morphing to convey a more earthy message, utilizing forms derived from R & B and the church. The music Hayes played in Cannonball Adderley’s groups typifies that sound: "This Here," "Work Song," "Mercy Mercy" and others are groove-oriented, soulful tunes that share elements with Gospel and the black popular music of the time.

Hayes’ contribution to Adderley’s band is undeniable -- he provided a strong grooving beat, yet he wasn’t showy. His drumming provides a steady, yet driving cushion for the soloist to play over yet demands little interaction. The drummer’s function during this era, and Hayes is a superb example of this, is to assert the tempo, the feel and the form while providing energy to the music.

One of Hayes’ particular strengths is his spry drumming on fast tempos: Hayes, could burn with the best!

Another positive trait of Louis Hayes is reminiscent of another hardbop legend, Art Blakey. Hayes often prefers to use young, thirsty and driven musicians to fill out his ensembles. Given Hayes’ stature, he gets to cherry-pick from the finest young musicians he hears. They in turn get to work with a master, to connect directly with the lineage. The receive a first-hand lesson in jazz history, but they also learn about repertoire, commitment, discipline and decorum. Meanwhile, Hayes’ gets his music infused with youthful energy and talent and can draw from their ideas and stylistic innovations.

The concert Louis Hayes will be performing at the VJC is no exception. He will be performing with a group of young, rising stars, including Jason Curry on alto saxophone. Curry has performed with the Duke Ellington, Ray Charles and Cab Colloway Orchestras, Valery Ponomarev, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Washington, The Temptations, Al Green, and the hip-hop group Digital Underground.

The pianist, Sharp Radway, is a product of the church who continues to serve as minister of music for his hometown congregation. He has worked and/or recorded with Bucky Pizzarelli, Yusef Lateef, Benny Golson, Fred Wesley, Slide Hampton, Diane Schuur and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, to name a few. He has also appeared in film with Mos Def, Beyonce Knowles and others.

Holding down the acoustic bass is Alex Claffey, a young wiz from Philadelphia who grew up surrounded by music (both his parents are professional musicians). Now completing his studies at the New School, he currently works with Orrin Evans, Duane and Kevin Eubanks, Ralph Peterson, Kenwood Dennard, George Burton and others.

This concert is sponsored by Dave Ellis, president of Ellis Music Company, Inc. Thanks to Ellis Music, students from local high schools can get free tickets from their band directors. This concert is also sponsored by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment of the Arts. Special thanks to the Hampton Inn for providing lodging and to VPR and WFCR.

Admission is $20, $15 for students with ID. Purchase tickets at, at In the Moment at 143 Main St., or at 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. This concert is handicapped-accessible, but call in advance (802-254-9088) if the use of an elevatoris required.


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