Home » Jazz Articles » Tommy Cecil and Bill Mays: Side by Side: Sondheim Duos

3
Album Review

Tommy Cecil and Bill Mays: Side by Side: Sondheim Duos

By

Sign in to view read count
Tommy Cecil and Bill Mays: Side by Side: Sondheim Duos
This is a brilliant collection of nine songs associated with composer Stephen Sondheim and delivered by the estimable pianist Bill Mays and excellent bassist Tommy Cecil. Cecil, who initiated and produced the project, is well-known in Washington, D.C., but his huge talent should bring him much wider attention. As for Mays, there's always the sense of a quick intelligence and ready humor behind those formidable chops; no pianist currently plying the trade makes more thoughtful and satisfying choices.

The party begins with a rousing version of "Something's Coming" that hints of what's to come: great technique, playfulness and witty quotes, full-out swing, intimate, pitch-perfect sound, and the kind of empathic interplay that it usually takes years to develop. Moreover, their mutual time is so good that a drummer is never missed. Each player has his say with full space and support from the other, while interest is sustained by the imaginative arrangements, wide variation in mood and feel, and clever reimagining of Sondheim's harmonies, which were never particularly jazzy to begin with.

Other highlights include the "Ballad of Sweeney Todd," where Cecil leads over Mays's suggestive harmonies and the tune soon gets deranged (much like Sweeney himself); the gorgeous lyricism of "Not While I'm Around" and "Small World"; and the full-out fun of "Broadway Baby." The solos are consistently intriguing and melodic, and the session ends with a delightful take on "Comedy Tonight" and a final surprising but relevant quote.

In a world where record labels implode every day, and the survivors increasingly cling to some pandering pop hybrid or other, it's reassuring that a project of this quality can still appear. True jazz fans will find much to savor here, from beginning to end.

Track Listing

Something's Coming; Not While I'm Around; Broadway Baby; Every Day a Little Death; Ballad of Sweeney Todd; Small World; Side by Side by Side; Anyone Can Whistle; Comedy Tonight.

Personnel

Tommy Cecil: bass; Bill Mays: piano.

Album information

Title: Side by Side: Sondheim Duos | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: No Label


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Times Like These
Nica Carrington
Existential Moments
Joe McPhee / John Edwards / Klaus Kugel
Freedom
Albare & Co.

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.