Many of drummer Louis Hayes' recordings as a leader have been recorded for European-based labels, so they have not gotten the attention they deserve in his native country, the United States. His sextet for this 1989 session includes pianist Kenny Barron, brother Gerald Hayes on alto sax, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, tenor saxophonist John Stubblefield, and bassist Clint Houston, all of whom are in excellent form. Surprisingly, Houston contributed most of the originals to the date, including the exotic, swirling opener, "El Cid," the brisk samba "Geri," and the more easygoing samba "Saudade." The bassist and the leader collaborated on the hard bop vehicle "Una Max," a cooker that presumably could be a tribute to Max Roach, though there are no liner notes to give details about the background of each composition. Tolliver wrote the adventurous Latin theme "Ruthie's Heart," which showcases Hayes' capabilities very well. Barron's "Ibis" is the most lyrical original of the date, while an extended workout of the bittersweet standard "You Don't Know What Love Is" provides a breather from Latin rhythms. This rewarding date is worthy of wider recognition.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden