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Bill Mays: Going Home & On The Road Again

Elliott Simon By

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Well traveled pianist Bill Mays has chosen to pay respect to the two disparate but coexisting worlds of the working musician: home and the road. For Mays and his top trio, which consists of drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind, Going Home can mean different things while On the Road Again teams him with guitarist Peter Sprague in a reprise of their '80s quartet Road Work Ahead.

Bill Mays Trio
Going Home
Palmetto

2003

Mays paints a poignant portrait of what he considers home. A tribute to his wife "Judy" benefits from an understated rhythm section as Mays steps through some quirky changes while "Comin Home Baby " features some lovely arco work. Irving Berlin's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" swings with an eager anticipation that is met with the soothing "In Her Arms". Both "Shoholo Song" and "Shoho Love Song" are delicate and near pastoral in their depiction of Mays' country home, yet his "On the Road" shivers with the keen expectation of a gig. "Nosey Neighbors", penned by pianist Jimmy Rowles, turns into an all out, albeit tongue in cheek, confrontation between Mays and Wind. The title cut includes a beautiful solo interpretation of the "Going Home" theme from Dvorak's New World Symphony that takes off into a bop trio improvisation. Mays finishes with his vocal version of bassist Red Mitchell's "I'm A Homebody" as the trio takes things home in style.

Road Work Ahead
On the Road Again
Strive To Break Even Records

2004

On the Road Again pays like homage to the working band with equal parts piano and guitar and a rhythm section of bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Jim Plank to present a varied program of primarily new music. Magnusson's "Thea's Laughter" is a full speed romper as Sprague's guitar draws inspiration from the bassist's daughter's laugh while his "Broken Ties" touchingly reflects on his eldest daughter's maturing and leaving home. For "Bird's Blues", Mays has strung together three Charlie Parker pieces to provide the requisite blues number while both his "Euterpe" and "In the Garden" delicately depict personal places. Plank's "Samba for Shelly" (Manne) and Sprague's "As It Is, As You Are" and the wonderfully graceful elucidation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Modinha" add Latin spice. Plank follows up with the rhythmic "Just A Little Nine Eight" and the original "Bark Bark" to serve up a set that would make any working band proud.

Track listing

Going Home : 1. Judy 2. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To 3. Shohola Song 4. Home 5. On The Road 6. Shoho Love Song 7. Nosey Neighbors 8. In Her Arms 9. Comin' Home Baby 10. Going Home 11. I'm A Homebody

On the Road Again : 1. Thea's Laughter 2.Samba For Shelly 3. Euterpe 4. Bird's Blues (Cheryl/Relaxin' at Camarillo/Perhaps) 5. In The Garden 6. As It Is, As You Are 7. Modinha 8. Just A Little Nine Eight 9. Broken Ties 10. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square 11. Bark Bark

Personnel

Going Home : Bill Mays, piano, (vocal on I'm A Homebody); Matt Wilson, drums; Martin Wind, bass

On the Road Again : Bill Mays, piano; Peter Sprague, guitar; Jim Plank, drums; Bob Magnusson, bass

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