Bill Mays: Fantasy (2007)
Between them, pianist/composer Bill Mays and trumpeter/educator Marvin Stamm have been around for approximately 634 years. These two have done it all, including duos and trios and quartets and quintets; big bands and studio work and TV and movies. They've also been friends for much of it, and aside from all the innovation and superb playing on this release, there's also the sound of a fond and enduring relationship.
That sound virtually defines the first track, a duo version of "Baubles, Bangles and Beads where the piano and trumpet are so freely and happily interwoven that they sound like a pair of kids playing hide and seek. Such musical camaraderie continues throughout the program, which offers an intriguing blend of jazz and classical music. As Mays puts it, his goal is "to find the chamber music in jazz, and vice versa. He may well have reached that goal with this outstanding CD.
Four of the nine tracks are Mays/Stamm duets that were recorded in November of 2001. The gifted young cellist Alisa Horn joins them for the remaining five, as they become The Inventions Trio. But in truth, the whole CD is inventivefor one thing, the mix of piano, trumpet and cello is unusual in classical chamber music, where strings and brass rarely co-exist. It's not terribly common in jazz, either. Yet after hearing Mays' fascinating hybrid composition, "Fantasy for Cello, Trumpet and Piano, you end up wondering why it's not used more often.
Another one of this CD's pleasures is listening to Stamm's heraldic horn as it soars above the cello and piano; it must be said that few trumpeters, living or otherwise, can match the strength and purity of his tone. Also outstanding is the clever merging of Bach with Bird ("Invention #8/Ah-Leu-Cha ), and the Scriabin prelude that gets knitted into "Sometime Ago, done as a jazz waltz.
It's rare for classical music and jazz to nestle this comfortably together, but Fantasy is so tuneful and well-crafted that partisans of both sides will find much to enjoyand those who already frolic in the third stream will be positively delighted.
Track Listing: Baubles, Bangles and Beads; Vocalise; Fantasy Movement 1; Fantasy Movement 2; Fantasy Movement 3; Prelude #2; Prelude Op. 11 #3 /Sometime Ago; The Girl With Flaxen Hair; Invention #8/Ah-Leu-Cha.
Personnel: Bill Mays: piano; Marvin Stamm: trumpet; Alisa Horn: cello.