1 May 1968, New York City, New York, USA. Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut, Hays began playing piano as a small child, encouraged by his father who also played piano. At first self-taught, he took lessons from the age of seven, attended a summer school and soon began listening to jazz on record. Local gigs followed even though he was still attending high school. In the mid-80s he played in New York and also began studying harmony and classical piano. Concurrently, he played gigs with Nick Brignola, Benny Golson and James Moody. He also played in the band co-led by Philip and Winard Harper. In the early 90s, Hays played and frequently recorded with a dizzying array of leading jazz artists, including Bob Belden, George Coleman, Golson, Donald Harrison, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Vincent Herring, Joshua Redman and Sonny Rollins.
Stylistically, early in his career Hays owed something to his influences who included Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner;...