Drummer from Detroit, Michigan, who led his own groups and was playing professionally in his teens.
He was in an organ trio in a club when the trio’s leader was replaced by Yusef Lateef and Louis basically had to audition to stay in the band, but was booted out after six weeks when they learned he was only eighteen. (You had to be at least twenty-one to play in the clubs.)
Horace Silver offered him a job, however, and he moved to the Big Apple in August 1956. They played both sides of the pond, and recorded steadily from 1956 to 1959.
Louis then band-hopped to The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, with whom he stayed for six years. It was with Cannonball that Louis had the opportunity to perform in Japan, and they were purportedly the first jazz ensemble to record an album there.
In 1965, Louis joined The Oscar Peterson Trio, along with CAQ alum Sam Jones, and this incarnation of the trio enjoyed a two-year run. He and Freddie Hubbard performed together off and on over the next few years, and Louis wound up back with Oscar Peterson for a short time in 1971 and 1972.
In 1972, he started his own band, The Louis Hayes Sextet, which later morphed into The Louis Hayes-Junior Cook Quintet and The Woody Shaw-Louis Hayes Quintet. Shaw quit the band in in 1977 but Louis continued to lead the group and recorded albums for a variety of labels from the 1970s through the new millennium.
In 1985, he became one third of The McCoy Tyner Trio, and they entertained audiences through 1988.
He and Vincent Herring formed The Cannonball Legacy Band, and they have performed together regularly in the 2000s. Louis also continued to release albums under his own name, including Louis at Large and Quintessential Lou. In 2005, he downsized to a trio with Devon Jackson and Ruben Rogers and they played some live dates in intimate venues such as Smoke, a night club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
For a recent example of Louis’s drumming acumen, check out The Cannonball Legacy Band’s 2006 release, Maximum Firepower.
Here he is performing with Cannonball Adderley in the UK…