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Bill Mays Trio: Live at Jazz Standard

Ken Franckling By

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After six years together, pianist Bill Mays, bassist Martin Wind, and drummer Matt Wilson decided to record in the setting where most musicians say magic really happens: feeding off the energy of a live audience. This disc was recorded over three nights last December at New York's Jazz Standard.

Mays is one of the deeper mainstream pianists around, and his many years of accompanying singers from Sarah Vaughan and Sheila Jordan to Peggy Lee and Helen Merrill (not to mention his pop work) has fine-tuned comping skills that are evident whenever the other bandmates take their own solos.

This trio has developed an intuitive and eclectic approach to music in progress. The tunes range from standards, Tin Pan Alley classics, and Broadway hits to a pair of Mays originals, each getting six minutes or more of creative interpretation.

Even the rather straightforward opener—"Have You Met Miss Jones? —is filled with melodic variety; Mays throws in a snippet of Fats Waller's "Jiitterbug Waltz and a few other teasers. Mays and Wind use artful pauses and melodic departures to suggest they're squeezing the time on "Squeeze Me —but they fall back into Wilson's steady beat.

Wind's bowed bass sets the melodic tone on "...Glocca Morra from Broadway's Finian's Rainbow and sets up a tasty Mays solo. The music gets non-traditional on the trio's approaches to "Darn That Dream as the melody is artfully introduced with plucked piano strings and bass counterpoint—a technique that follows on "Willow Weep for Me and is unforced and ungimmicky.

Mays' "Music House is a freewheeling tune that offers intense, up-tempo interplay, while his ballad "Euterpe displays Wilson's knack for unconventional percussive accents. Monk's "Let's Call This fits in with the band's unpredictable nature, offering Mays a chance to weave in a number of other compositional references to Monk. Ornette Coleman's "When Will the Blues Leave? is another fine bass showcase for Wind, both in the introduction and as a strong underpinning for the solos that follow. "Smile ends Live at Jazz Standard with depth and interplay that no doubt had the crowd smiling and applauding.

Track Listing: Have You Met Miss Jones?; Squeeze Me; How are Things in Glocca Morra?; Darn That Dream; Music House; Let's Call This; Euterpe; Willow Weep for Me; When Will the Blues Leave?; Smile.

Personnel: Bill Mays: piano; Matt Wilson: drums; Martin Wind: bass.

Title: Live at Jazz Standard | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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