Louis Hayes Cannonball Legacy Band plus Antonio Hart Quartet 6 August, Ronnie Scott's. London

The audience had high expectations from this double bill, and they were certainly not disappointed. The fact that an established jazz figure such as Antonio Hart could be the evening’s opener was an indication of what musical gems were in store.  

The Antonio Hart Quartet featured John Goldsby on bass, Phil DeGreg piano, Steve Davis on drums and the band’s leader on alto sax (all of whom were tutors on this years Jazzwise Summer School). The quartet kicked off with ‘Here I Stand’, one of Hart’s own compositions, which earned him a Grammy nomination back in 1997.
Louis Hayes Cannonball Legacy Band plus Antonio Hart Quartet 6 August, Ronnie Scott's. London

Davis’ Latin tinged rhythms that started ‘Here I Stand’ were swiftly replaced by a driving bop groove that opened up a sturdy platform for Hart to swing into his solo of furious weaving phrases and fiery high-points. The mood immediately cooled and the volume dropped to give way for an equally impressive piano solo from Phil DeGreg, while a warmed up Hart took the audience’s appreciation and strolled to the side of the stage in order to lose the silver suit jacket, roll up his sleeves and dab his glasses with a towel in preparation for the rest of an energetic set.

As Louis Hayes took to the stage it would be understandable to be fooled by the 72 year old’s soft voice and stately manner. However, age has certainly not withered the iconic drummers’ talent. Hayes delivered throughout the evening with comfortable and understated grooves and all the time-honoured flare you would expect from a musician who has worked with such jazz titans as John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Joe Henderson and Cannonball Adderley, all of whom the band paid tribute.

The drummer, as usual, took pride in his subtlety and functionality as a bop drummer and never over-powered the other musicians. While allowing the front line to show through, he provided all the phrasing which was needed to articulate the melody and lead the horns into impressive improvisation.  

In true Ronnie Scott’s style the performance went on late into the night, but even those who traded in seeing the jazz icons last set for a train home still got their money’s worth.

Review: Luke Pinkstone