Jon Mayer: The Classics (2004)
Mayer recorded The Classics in New York last year with his trio, featuring bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Willie Jones III. It consists of eleven tunes that he considers jazz chestnuts—each with a shelf life, harmonic quality and a melodic direction that invite fresh exploration every time out, even though some may have been neglected by the public at large, or other artists.
The trio format brings freshness—and a fresh examination—to the gems. And “gems” is the intended word here, for the songs sparkle under Mayer’s hands. There is no overplaying, no excess. Every note fits the song like a hand-tailored suit. These are not musical clothes off the rack. Reid and Jones fit well with Mayer— always supportive, unobtrusive at times, and solidly matching his swinging energy.
Mayer’s “classics” include Miles Davis’ “Solar,” Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty,” Jackie McLean’s “Little Melonae,” Horace Silver’s “Ecaroh,” Joe Henderson’s Latin-tinged “Recordame” and Benny Carter’s “Souvenir,” a mere pup in comparison, having been written in 1987. This salute to friends and heroes also includes Sonny Rollins’ “Solid,” Bill Evans’ “Very Early,” Kenny Barron’s “Voyage” and Tadd Dameron’s “Lady Bird.” Gordon Parks’ “Don’t Misunderstand” is better known as a vocal vehicle, but as a solo piano instrumental it’s a poignant masterpiece on which Mayer makes the keyboard sing.
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This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Track Listing: Solar; Along Came Betty; Little Melonae; Souvenir; Recordame; Solid; Very Early; Ecaroh; Don
Personnel: Jon Mayer (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Willie Jones III (drums)
Record Label: Reservoir Music