Alvin Hayes, Jr. plays all saxophones, flutes, clarinets and other members of the Woodwind family. He hails from Long Beach, California. As to his musical background, he remarked “My Mother and Father were involved in music, so I guess that I was destined to play something”. He played the drums, the bass drum, “boom… chick …chick…boom.” He started his formal music training at the age of nine. His first instrument was the violin. “I can remember the violin. At age 9, I had an aunt” he goes on to say, “And she had this instrument and my Mother wanted to get me involved in music, so it was my axe instrument. I discovered after a year that it was not going to be my calling”, he recalled.
The next year he got his wish and began saxophone lessons. “Man…that was the beginning. My Mom knew the cafeteria lady at my elementary school and they got to talking and one thing led to another. I didn’t know that her brother had once played with the big band leader Jack Teagarden.” Jack had retired to Long Beach and was playing in the Long Beach Municipal Band. He was also giving private lessons. Soon after, young Alvin began studying classical saxophone and flute with Clark Crandall. It was with Crandall that Alvin received his early technical foundation and appreciation of all types of music.
While he was in high school at Long Beach Poly High School he was an athlete, academic and West Point bound musician. “Well, I was a renaissance person… There were great opportunities that came my way.” he replies. For three years, Alvin had the opportunity to play in the County of Los Angeles Battle of the Bands at the Hollywood Bowl. He played and hung out with Henry Mancini, Patrice Rushen, Ngudu, Gerald Albright, the late Jeff Porcaro, Cannonball Adderley, and many others. Alvin did not get the chance to go to West Point, but there were other things waiting for him to do.
After high school, Alvin left for the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. There he played in various big bands and small groups. While working on his engineering degree, he got an opportunity to play with many music giants. Some of the musicians he associated with were Bennie Maupin, Grover Washington, Jr., Cannonball Adderely, Junior Cook, Joe Farrell, and many others. His summers were spent studying improvisation with Buddy Collette. “Buddy introduced me to a lot of great music people” says Alvin. After graduation with a degree in engineering, he headed back to California to begin paying some, as he called them “serious musical dues.” He began studying at the Dick Grove Music Workshop. It was during that period that Alvin began playing with the former jazz great, organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith.
After three years with Smith, Alvin was studying with the well-known Los Angeles studio musician, Bill Green. A friend of his, Dr. George Shaw, had landed a recording contract with Palo Alto Records. Shaw asked if he wanted to record. “Yes”, was his reply. Alvin recorded five CD’s during his seven years. He recorded on George Shaw’s Jetstream: Around The World, Let Yourself Go, Skywalkers and Alvin Hayes’ CD’s: Star Gaze, Passion Flower, All The Way, Festiva and the newest CD The L.B.C. His songs have always been listed on the Billboard Magazine Jazz charts.
Alvin took a hiatus from recording in 1996 to just played and study. He had begun teaching Mathematics and didn’t know what was waiting for him around the corner. On September 23, 1997, he had returned home from church, and had a stroke! He thought that the kind of life that he knew was over. His right side was paralyzed. “I thought I was through…But God, the doctors and the therapists had other plans” says Alvin. Well, it’s 2019 and Alvin is back playing better and stronger than ever. Look for the NEW CD titled “The L.B.C.”