John Mackay came to the Napa Valley and Sonoma wine countries of California via Toronto, New York and Boston. In addition to jazz, Mackay has written choral works and is currently immersed in Indian music and instruments. This album is dedicated to Sri Sri Bhagavan who has the title of Divine World Teacher. The six Mackay originals on the album find their roots in Bhagavan's teaching. If the music is any indication, serenity is an important part of the man's teachings. Even "Tennessee Waltz" is done in a limpid manner while "Smile" is almost tranquilizing.
The album, however, is not all "peaced" heart. Things are livened up considerably on the standards where Mackay shows his ability to swing while surprises as he intersperses unusual chord combinations and runs while at no time resorting to pounding the ivories. This technique comes to full fruition on "Bye Bye Blackbird" where the group has a lot of fun while giving this oft played standard a new bright musical paint job.
No matter what the tempo or the philosophical underpinning for the session, Mackay establishes himself as an excellent pianist (we can do without the synthesizer) and we need to hear more from him. In the meantime, it's recommended that this album be added to "to buy" lists.
Track Listing: Never Not Knowing Bavaneeta; Smile; You and the Night and the Music; Scrambling Nobles*; Tennessee Waltz; On the Road to Franklin Square*; Psychotic Dance Moves*; In the Manner of Flowers*; Bye Bye Blackbird*; And After so Long a Time*
Personnel: John MacKay - Piano/Synthesizer; Steve Zerlin, Wilbur Krebs*- Bass; Paul Distel, Michael Aragon* - Drums
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.