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Dedicated to the memory of Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell and Jimmy Rowles, Bill Mays' thirteenth album as leader features straight-ahead jazz adventures with mellow overtones. While each of the three veteran artists making up this piano trio have been known to stretch out on occasion, their Going Home session simmers gently with a rustic quality.
Mays, 59, discovered jazz at many of San Francisco's nightspots as a teenager. At 17, he paid his dues with the U.S. Navy's School of Music in Washington, D.C. A four-year tour, followed by networked gigging in Southern California, introduced the emerging pianist and musical director to jazz of all shapes and sizes.
As its title suggests, Mays' original 'On the Road' contrasts with the album's theme. The piece sparkles with energy and enthusiasm. All three step up to the plate and turn their imaginations loose. Working on the road, of course, does that to you.
Dvorak's 'Going Home' states the album's theme, and most of the other selections have been placed because they reflect the same idea. Not all, however, since Mays has looked at 'home' from several different angles. There's the perky 'Nosey Neighbors' by Jimmy Rowles that swings with a carefree spirit. There's Red Mitchell's 'Homebody' song about how nice it is to flop awhile when you're stressed or overly tired. There's Bob Dorough's swinging classic 'Comin' Home Baby' (with Ben Tucker) that wears gracefully on nostalgic ears. Thus, Mays' latest album fills many needs and 'brings home' the straight-ahead message we've grown to love over time.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.