Harvey Mason: With All My Heart (2004)
Harvey Mason's motto on With All My Heart seems to be "The one who plays drums in a jazz trio with the most bad-ass pianists and bassists wins. Arguably, that can be also stated of his entire career, as he has played and recorded with a mind-numbing amount of artists through various historical periods and musical styles. The lengthy and illustrious development of the quintessential small jazz group is definitely boosted by this recording.
The premise of the production was quite simple: Mason endeavoring to pair several of his favorite pianists and bassists to record material that is largely familiar to both musicians and the average jazz audience, as well as suited to the respective instrumentalists involved. With the exception of bassists Dave Carpenter, who performs on "If I Should Lose You and "Speak Like a Child, and Ron Carter, who executes on three compositions, the only common thread of the recording is the dexterous and versatile drumming of the leader. Blessedly, Mason also decided to write the liner noteshence the prospect of knowing what he had in mind for each super-trio, their respective interpretations, and their raison d'être.
"If I Should Lose You, interpreted by Chick Corea, Carpenter, and Mason, is a first and only take. It's emblematic of the best this project, the traditional jazz trio, and this type of music has to offer. Herein the devil isn't only in the details, even though they tell a story by themselves. The cymbal ride, Carpenter's in-and-out march (he seems to vanish while being ever more present), and Corea's elegant and robust lyricism are some particulars worth mentioning. But those are minutiae within a dreamily tight and expressive cohesiveness that closes with an understated driven coda.
Hank Jones and George Mraz join the leader in "Tess. Jones opens by himself and takes immediate ownership of this number. Mason does quite a bit with it, without intruding one bit as Mraz lays it heavy yet unruffled before following Jones for a couple of bars. It is finger lickin' good!
Track Listing: Bernie's Tune; If I Should Lose You; So Near, So Far; Swamp Fire; When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Hindsight; Dindi; Without a Song; One Morning in May; Speak Like a Child; Tess.
Personnel: Monty Alexander (4), Herbie Hancock (10), Fred Hersch (3), Hank Jones (11), Cedar Walton (6), Kenny Barron (1), Chick Corea (2), Dave Grusin (9), Mulgrew Miller (8), Brad Mehldau (7), Bob James (5): piano. Dave Carpenter (2,10), Eddie Gomez (3), George Mraz (11), Charnett Moffett (4), Larry Grenadier (7), Charlie Haden (5), Ron Carter (1,6,8): bass. Harvey Mason, Sr.: drums