Louis Hayes & Company

The Super Quartet

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This quartet session led by drummer Louis Hayes almost has the flavor of a typical Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers album; although there's no brass, the selections and the hard bop arrangements generally fit. Hayes' drums are very prominent in the mix, which occasionally results in burying bassist Essiet Essiet's contributions. Hayes is also joined by pianist Kirk Lightsey and young tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson (the latter musician being an alum of Blakey's final edition of the band). Lightsey's energetic solos keep up with the pace set by the leader in driving numbers like Cedar Walton's "Bolivia." Jackson shines in Freddie Hubbard's famous waltz "Up Jumped Spring." Lightsey's inventive introduction to Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" sets up this introspective feature for the rhythm section, while he also assists Jackson with his thoughtful voicings in Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge." Essiet also has a turn in the spotlight, setting the table for a blistering take of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy." The swing-era blues "Blue Lou" is performed in an unusual setting: a duet by tenor sax and drums. This is easily one of Louis Hayes' best recordings as a leader.

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