Jon Mayer was working professionally as a jazz pianist as a teen back in the '50s, while attending the Manhattan School of Music. As well as working as a sideman with Tony Scott
, Kenny Dorham
, Chet Baker
, the Thad Jones
Orchestra, Sarah Vaughan
and others, along with taking part in record dates with John Coltrane
and Jackie McLean
, Mayer contributed original pop songs to a number of vocalist record dates, though he did not make his recording debut as a leader until 1995 with Round Up the Usual Suspects
During the past decade, Mayer has found a home with Reservoir; Nightscape
is his fifth CD for the label, all of which feature seasoned bassist Rufus Reid
, while this is the third date with drummer Roy McCurdy
. Mayer doesn't attempt to dazzle with his technique, preferring to draw in with his variations on each theme. His upbeat setting of Ray Noble's "The Touch of Your Lips" and breezy take of Cole Porter
's "So in Love" are fine examples of what a veteran instrumentalist can do with time-tested standards. He is equally at home with familiar jazz works, working a bit of dissonance into the theme of Oscar Pettiford
's lively bop vehicle "Bohemia After Dark," and navigating the often tricky path of Horace Silver
's infrequently recorded "Room 608."
Any jazz musician worth his salt searches for overlooked gems, and Mayer uncovers one with Harold Land
's late '70s ballad, "Rapture," an infectious medium-tempo performance buoyed by a soft ostinato bass line. Mayer's writing skills are also showcased: the dreamy title ballad suggests a walk home late on a perfect Manhattan spring evening, while the softly swaggering "Blues Junction" showcases the much-in-demand Reid in the solo spotlight.
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.
Jon Mayer: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Roy McCurdy: drums.