Swing is something you feel...Louis Hayes is rhythmic backbone of modern jazz drumming.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
One does not review a release from an artist that commands the respect and attention of Louis Hayes. The best idea is simply to inform the public that one of the most influential drummers since Philly Joe Jones is back with a live set that is the embodiment of swing. The Return of the Jazz Communicators celebrates a legendary ensemble co-founded by Hayes and Freddie Hubbard in 1967. The Jazz Communicators were a bit unorthodox as they deviated away from the expected quintet format by utilizing a vibraphone / tenor saxophone front line. The more things change the more they stay the same as this quintet format has been adopted by numerous fine bands but there will always be only one Jazz Communicators.
The new line up is a modern day all star group with the great vibraphonist Steve Nelson and rising tenor star Abraham Burton. The rhythm section is rounded off with Dezron Douglas on bass and pianist David Bryant. The scary aspect for this release might be that the synergy and stylized swing are on point as to have this band achieving an even higher level of appreciation than the original. There is a soulful ebb and flow, an articulated groove based on lyrical drive and rhythmic finesse. High points include the standard "Without A Song" slightly tweaked yet recalling the original done with Joe Henderson years earlier. "Soul-Leo" is a Mulgrew Miller tune with an arrangement that shows an expansive vision without mangling the original melody. Dezron Douglas contributes the original Vagabond Ron and Steve Nelson's "Shape Shifting" is a vibrant number that highlights the collective strength of this magnificent group. Finally Hayes offers up his own original with some syncopated whimsy with "Lou's Idea."
Swing like love is something you feel and you know when it's right!
Tracks: Soul-Leo; Shape Shifting; Lush Life (Intro); Groovin' For Nat; It's Up To You; Without A Song; Simple Pleasures; Vagabond Ron; Portrait of Jennie; Lou's Idea; Village Greene.
Personnel: Louis Hayes: Drums; Steve Nelson: Vibraphone; David Bryant; Dezron Douglas: Bass; Louis Hayes: Drums.