All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Jon Mayer: Nightscape

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
New York-born, Los Angeles-based pianist Jon Mayer began his musical career in the New York jazz scene of the 1950s and 1960s. He has a long and distinguished pedigree, including work with Jackie McLean and John Coltrane, but his first recording as leader came as late as 1996, with Round Up The Usual Suspects (Pullen Music). Nightscape is Mayer's eighth album as leader and it's an engaging, beautifully performed, collection of tunes.

As with Mayer's previous albums as a leader, this is a trio recording, the pianist reprising the line-up from his last release, So Many Stars (Reservoir Music, 2007), with drummer Roy McCurdy and longtime collaborator/bassist Rufus Reid. The trio comprises all exceptional musicians and their empathy is apparent throughout the album. Sound quality is excellent, with Mayer's upper register playing and McCurdy's cymbals coming across particularly clearly, although on occasions the bass, whether from Mayer's piano or Reid's upright, deserves to be higher in the mix.

Mayer has chosen an inspired combination of tunes, from the Great American Songbook, compositions of past jazz masters (such as Horace Silver's "Room 608"), and two of his own compositions—"Nightscape," a delicate ballad, and "Blues Junction," a straight-ahead blues featuring a melodic solo from Reid. Taken together this selection creates a mix of the familiar and the not-so-familiar that enables the musicians to bring fresh ideas to well-established tunes as well as adding something new to the canon.

The trio's treatment of the best known composition on the album, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz's "Dancing in the Dark," demonstrates in exemplary style how Mayer can arrange and perform a familiar tune and bring new insights and approaches to it. Mayer's interpretation offers enough variation to keep the tune fresh without losing the essence of its beautiful melody. Initially Mayer simplifies the melody—an inspired move which creates space and calm in the playing—before he moves into a fine solo, driven by McCurdy's delicate and sympathetic brush work. Reid is also sparing with his notes, enhancing the sense of space, before he takes his own brief but effective solo.

Mayer's arrangement of Harold Land's "Rapture" is exquisite. The tune is played at a slightly faster tempo than Land's original version, with Mayer and Reid sharing the central eight-note bass and piano theme before Mayer takes off with a genuinely lovely solo, underpinned by Reid's continuation of the opening theme and by McCurdy's inventive but never intrusive percussion. While the other tunes have their own strengths, this is the standout track to Nightscape—a delightful recording full of invention and inspiration.

Track Listing: The Touch of Your Lips; Blues Junction; Day by Day; Nightscape; Rapture; Room 608; Dancing in the Dark; Bohemia After Dark; Theme for Ernie; Once I Loved; So in Love.

Personnel: Jon Mayer: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Roy McCurdy: drums.

Title: Nightscape | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Reservoir Music


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Reservoir Music



Reservoir Music

So Many Stars

So Many Stars

Reservoir Music

The Classics

The Classics

Reservoir Music


Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Old Soul" CD/LP/Track Review Old Soul
by Anya Wassenberg
Published: February 26, 2018
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Ha Noi Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Ha Noi Duo
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971" CD/LP/Track Review On The Radio: BBC Sessions 1971
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Along The Way" CD/LP/Track Review Along The Way
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "Another Place, Another Time" CD/LP/Track Review Another Place, Another Time
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 18, 2017