[ Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth]If you aren't familiar with pianist Kevin Hays, you should be. He's recorded and toured with many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. And those who call him can't seem to get enough of him. His recent projects as a leader on Artistshare have been stunningly beautiful. I've been a fan ever since I came to New York. I heard him with Eddie Henderson's band many times, and I heard him with many other projects, including his own. I caught a bit of his ...read more
When famed jazz scholar Gunther Schuller first coined the term Thematic Improvisation," he wasn't introducing a new concept so much as shedding light on how jazz artists had come to use the age-old Theme And Variations" format in their own sweet way. While nobody would argue that grand compositional gestures or outré improvisations from a master musician can be revealing, hearing an artist dissect and rebuild a musical theme on the spot is the real window into their mind. A musician may have all of the usual musical tools at their disposal, like key changes, tempo changes, rhythmic diminution and ...read more
Pianist Kevin Hays and long-time collaborators Doug Weiss (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums) explore a set of jazz and pop classics on You've Got a Friend, a well-conceived piano trio affair.
The Carol King-penned title track and Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water" begin the disc with a laid-back gospel vibe, tranquil and unhurried. Hays approaches these pop classics with just the right amount of lyricism, being faithful to the essence of each tune while happily avoiding the temptation to drift into overbearing melodrama. The same could be said of Weiss' reading of the melody on Bridge Over Troubled Water." ...read more
Pianist Kevin Hays came to prominence in New York in the '80s, eventually working with such luminaries as Sonny Rollins, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Joe Henderson, Art Farmer and John Scofield, among others. In the '90s, he recorded a well-received series of sessions for Blue Note, including '94's Seventh Sense (one of the New York Times' Top 40 Jazz Releases of the Year ) and '96's Andalucia (which featured Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette). Now, relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he remains active both stateside and abroad.
This current solo piano offering, Piano Works III: Open Range, ...read more
Kevin Hays opens For Heaven's Sake with a bit of solo piano: an introspective, reverent-sounding, church-like interlude. Then bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart slip into the sound and the trio winds into tenor saxophone great Sonny Rollins' Sonny Moon for Two," cranking up the intensity/extroversion factor for five minutes, and Weiss takes a solo in front of Stewart's implacable timekeeping and Hays' spare, sparkling comping. It's a well-chosen, beautifully executed opener for a set of familiar jazz standards. This group of tunes includes the much-covered Sam Rivers composition Beatrice"; Wayne Shorter's Lady Day"; Burke and Van Heusen's It ...read more
Like trumpeter Tim Hagans, whose recent release Beautiful Lily represents a welcome return to recording as a leader, pianist Kevin Hays is back with three records in the space of one year, following a seven-year break. Piano Works III: Open Range (ACT, 2005) is a solo effort, while his forthcoming ArtistShare disc features his longstanding trio with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart. Based on the evidence of What Survives, a recent independent release featuring the same trio from a couple of 2001 sessions, their forthcoming project will be something to watch for.
That's not to say that Hays ...read more
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