There are few jazz legends acclaimed drummer Louis Hayes hasn't performed with since his extraordinary career began in the mid-1950s.
Along with playing a prominent role in bands led by such jazz icons as Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderly, Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner, Hayes' recording credits include albums with such luminaries as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Freddie Hubbard.
Still recording and touring today at the age of 75, either with his own group or heading the all-star Cannonball Adderly Legacy Band, Hayes will make his Maui debut on Saturday at the 2nd Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival at the Grand Wailea Resort.
Joe Louis Walker will be among the lineup of exciting musicians performing Saturday from 4:30 p.m. on the oceanfront Molokini Gardens stage as part of the 2nd Annual Jazz & Blues Festival at the Grand Wailea Resort.
Photo courtesy Maui Jazz & Blues Festival
Growing up in Detroit, Hayes first studied piano and soon gravitated to drums.
"My father played drums and piano and my mother sang and played piano," he recalls. "As a kid I heard my father listening to big band music on the radio. As I grew, I started listening to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and all the rest of the wonderful musicians at that time."
Hired at the age of 18 to play with saxophonist/flautist Yusef Lateef, he subsequently received a phone call to join piano legend Horace Silver in New York.
Few musicians have had a greater impact on contemporary mainstream jazz than Silver, who pioneered the hard bop style in the 1950s.
With Silver's Quintet, Hayes recorded such seminal albums as "6 Pieces of Silver" and "Blowin' the Blues Away."
"I joined Horace in 1956," Hayes says. "It was a magnificent time being in New York with New York's finest. I got the opportunity to record with many musicians (like John Coltrane).
When saxophonist Cannonball Adderley decided to leave Miles Davis' band to form his own group, Hayes was invited to join the legendary saxophonist. Hayes' drum work with Adderly can be heard on such landmark albums as "Them Dirty Blues," which features Nat Adderley's classic "Work Song," and the live recordings, "Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco," "At the Lighthouse," and "In New York," which featured future Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul on piano.
Six years later he left Adderly, along with bassist Sam Jones, to play with pianist Oscar Peterson. In subsequent years he formed a band with Freddie Hubbard and spent time with McCoy Tyner in a trio in the mid-1980s, playing on albums like "Live at the Musicians Exchange Cafe," which included the Santana tribute, "Senor Carlos."
Looking back over his storied career, Hayes feels proud to have contributed to the evolution of jazz with so many pioneers.
"Most of them are not here any more and I'm still here feeling good," he says. "When you start out you don't realize this is what's going to happen. I got to a point where I ended up being a person that people looked at as a legend. That's what happens if you can play on a certain level and survive. I feel fortunate to have been able to make that history, and you move on and keep going."
Playing jazz he says provides, "an endless relationship with your instrument, and you can always grow. I respect the art form and in order to play you have to respect yourself and the art form and the musicians you play with and the audience. And I still love to play. I really am fortunate."
The influence of veteran blues musician Joe Louis Walker's formative years is evident on his terrific, latest album "Hellfire."
Growing up San Francisco in the late 1960s, Walker played on bills with Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and Thelonious Monk, shared a house with blues guitar legend Mike Bloomfield, and lived around the corner from Sly Stone.
A passionate, soulful musician, adept at so many styles, Walker's "Hellfire" has been widely acclaimed.
"Boundary-pushing blues rocker Joe Louis Walker is a modern and legendary blues icon," raved an NPR review. "The album showcases Walker's famous ability to shred. He expertly incorporates his intense, racing solos into blues, spirituals and crashing rock jams."
"'Hellfire' blows all over the map," praised a Billboard review. "From gutbucket blues and joyous gospel to Rolling Stones-style rock crunch and aching R&B, Walker's guitar playing is fine and fierce."
"I came from an environment where different styles of music were played all the time," Walker explains. "Although I'm known for blues, I've played various styles of music with different people. I wanted to make a record that young people could relate to, something that could attract their ears."
Especially on the scorching title track, Walker evokes the intensity of Hendrix's guitar playing. "All guitar players love Jimi Hendrix," he says. "His name was synonymous with artistic freedom."
Elsewhere he adopts the rocking swagger of the Stones' "Exile on Main Street" period on "Ride All Night," steers Hank Snow's country classic "Movin' On" into blues territory, unleashes some fiery gospel with "Soldier for Jesus," and builds the smoldering "What It's Worth" to a feedback-drenched crescendo.
"People tell me I'm a good guitar player, but I'm not great," he says modestly. "The guys who taught me are really great and I'm fortunate to have been around some of the greatest musicians in the world. I'd ask them to show me a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it you have a little bit of everybody, and you expand and have your own thing."
Among the guests on "Hellfire," Walker is joined by former Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans and the legendary Jordanaires, who backed Elvis for many years.
"I've worked with Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana from Elvis' band on several projects," he says. "We had a bond with gospel music. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with them."
In the late 1960s, at the age of 16, Walker had the fortune to be hired as the house guitarist at the Matrix, one of San Francisco's popular clubs, where bands like Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother often played.
Playing at the Matrix and at the nearby Fillmore West, Walker shared the stage with many blues greats from T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker to Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and Freddie King.
"I went to junior high school one block from the Fillmore Auditorium," he recalls. "I performed there before gentrification, before Bill Graham and before the hippies came. It was our community playhouse for the youngsters. I saw a lot of acts there and when the hippies came it was another rebirth. I'd see Little Richard play when he had religion to a religious crowd, and see the Yardbirds with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck."
Some of the headlining artists befriended the young musician. "I was around these ground-breaking musicians who were writing the book as they went along," he says. "Older ones like Muddy Waters or Willie Dixon would see me and they'd see a little bit of themselves when they were young. People like to share because they don't want it to die."
By the time he was 19, Walker had built a close friendship with Paul Butterfield Blues Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield. They became roommates and many artists would stop by to hang out like Bob Dylan, Santana and John Mayall.
Within a few years Walker felt moved to return to his gospel roots and he began playing with Oakland's Spiritual Corinthians. "I was leaning towards getting into gospel. Some of my friends had died, and if I hadn't changed my lifestyle at that time I would be with them. After 10 years it was time to get back to blues."
In recent years Walker has performed as a guest on a number of albums with artists ranging from B.B. King (the Grammy-winning "Blues Summit") to former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green ("The Anthology"). And he's contributed to a number of tribute albums including "Hellhound on my Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson" and "Hey Bo Diddley," tearing through the classic "Who Do You Love."
* The 2nd Annual Maui Jazz & Blues Festival is presented Friday through Sunday at the Grand Wailea Resort. The concert on Saturday in the Molokini Gardens begins at 4:30 p.m. The exciting lineup includes Louis Hayes, Joe Louis Walker, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, saxophonist Javon Jackson, trumpeter/former Kool & the Gang vocalist Skip Martin, Radiators guitarist Camile Baudoin, zydecko accordionist Cory Ledet, Brother Noland and his blues band, Hawaiian guitarist John Keawe (performing jazz slack key), Benny Uyetake and the Kalama School Intermediate Ukulele Jazz Cats, and the Zenshin Daiko Taiko Drummers. Tickets are $60. VIP front row tables for 10 are available for $1000. Tickets are on sale at Whole Foods, Hawaiian Moons, the Grand Wailea and at www.mauijazzandbluesfestival.com.
Other fest events include a "Blues Celebration Dinner" at Capische Restaurant today from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring the Jazz Alley TV Trio with Lenny Castellanos, Danny M and Paul Marchetti, plus special guests. Tickets are $65. Call 879-2224. And a Sweet Paradise Chocolate event on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with jazz by Shiro Mori and Gene Argel. The Grand Wailea is offering a special room rate for Hawaii residents for $220 per night for the event. Call 875-1234.