Louis Hayes, "Serenade for Horace" (Blue Note).
As time goes by, we're seeing a lot more discs like this--new discs distinguished by the excellence of their notes rather than the music within. Before this month is out, drummer Louis Hayes will celebrate his 80th birthday. He was one of the primal musicians of the soul jazz era with Horace Silver, then Cannonball Adderly and Oscar Peterson and then just about everyone who was anyone at the time.
What he's done here is a tribute to his first great and most important employer Horace Silver, Unfortunately, his presence on the classic original version of "Senor Blues" doesn't mean that this brand new one in another century, with its stiff rockish rhythms of 2017 will, in any way, resemble his suppleness back in the day. Nor does this group with saxophonist Abraham Burton and trumpet player Josh Evans with vibraphonist Steve Nelson get anywhere close to its inspiration in the classic great Silver group with Junior Cook and Blue Mitchell.
A lyricist Silver was not, no matter how often he tried which means that the words Gregory Porter sings to Silver's classic "Song for My Father" detract more than they add. I could think of 10 of the best known Silver tunes whose addition might have improved this disc. Hayes would have been wonderful, for instance, in Silver's "Cape Verdean Blues."
But this is a tribute to musicians in a classic group that either can't match them or, in the leader's case, is no longer in possession of optimal chops. The best thing about this disc, by far, are Hayes' personal and wonderful notes.
2.5 stars (out of four)