Over the course of the last half-century, Earl May has been one of the busiest bass players in the New York Area. He spent just about the entire decade of the 1950s with the long-running Billy Taylor Trio. Dr. Taylor arranged for a reunion recording of the original trio (with Percy Brice on drums), which was recorded for Prestige in 2003 as Billy Taylor Trio with Earl May/Percy Brice.
On this latest effort, May shows his ability to provide the pulse of this quartet as well as manage some nimble solos. Recording for Arbors, one of the key labels specializing in post-war swing music, the Earl May Quartet fits right in and then some. Altoist David Glasser takes most of the melody statements, providing the right touch. On the jump tunes, like the Count Basie piece "Swinging The Blues," Glasser sounds very much like Paul Desmond in his prime. On the first ballad, "Blame It On My Youth," Glasser's notes curl inward on the beautiful Oscar Levant/Edward Heyman melody. Dave Glasser also contributes a fine ballad, "Blue Iridescense," and his solo on that composition explores the blues content of the piece.
Earl May's reputation is that of a workhorse who has to be coaxed to take a solo. I am pleased to see that he does get the opportunity on this album, taking a walking bass solo on the title tune, beginning the melody line of "My Foolish Heart" before turning it over to Glasser, and putting in another good one on the Comden & Green/Jule Styne piece "Make Someone Happy." Larry Ham proves a most serviceable pianist, whether providing a romantic cushion for the ballads or fine comping on the up-tempo "Make Someone Happy." After having seen drummer Eddie Locke a number of times, I'd forgotten just how good he can be with brushes. You can hear that throughout the album and especially on Dave Glasser's "It's So Divine." Locke even contributes an original tune, "Wishes Are Starting To Don't Come True."
In addition to the standards and originals, the quartet tackles some bebop staples like "Lester Leaps In" and "Confirmation" rather smartly.
Track Listing: Swinging The Blues; Blame It On My Youth; My Foolish Heart; Tea For Two; Blue Iridescense;
Make Someone Happy; Under African Skies; Sioux Suite; My Old Flame; Confirmaton; Wishes
Are Starting To Don't
Come True; It's So Divine; Lester Leaps In.
Personnel: Earl May: bass; David Glasser: alto sax; Kenny Ham: piano; Barry Harris: piano (4,9); Eddie
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.