All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

3

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

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

Sign in to view read count
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.

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

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Drift CD/LP/Track Review
Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Journey Moments CD/LP/Track Review
Journey Moments
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island CD/LP/Track Review
Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Night Concert CD/LP/Track Review
Night Concert
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read "Rain or Shine" CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Truth Decay" CD/LP/Track Review Truth Decay
by John Kelman
Published: March 7, 2018
Read "Tetrawind" CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Doubtless" CD/LP/Track Review Doubtless
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 2, 2018
Read "Edge Detection" CD/LP/Track Review Edge Detection
by Doug Collette
Published: March 4, 2018