Especially in this world of fragmented formats such as the abominable "smooth jazz," Berklee-trained performer and instructor Willie Myette has chosen an ambitious and even hubric title for his debut album. Though he may not cover all the Basies, and though he may occassionally seem as if his sense of "Jazz" as an entire genre disappeared with Gershwin, Myette mixes standard compositions with more contemproary insights for a collection which, if not encyclopedic, is at least a good primer for his students and listeners.
From old school standards such as a heart-tugging take on Rogers and Hart’s "Little Girl Blue," a softly swinging solo-led setup of Levant and Heyman’s ‘Blame It On My Youth" and a peppy pop through Johnny Mercer’s "Autumn Leaves" to newer pieces like Oscar Peterson’s "Hymn To Freedom" (made all the younger with the help of a Guiraldi-esque children’s choir), Myette mixes flavors of old and new in a bold attempt at introducing and encapsulating as much of jazz as possible into one nine-track album. Throwing in one original for good measure ("Ella’s Song," a tribute to his daughter, if not also the first lady of jazz), Myette deals with many of the great composers and constructs of jazz. However, in limiting himself to nine songs and a trio, Myette also misses many of the lements which have made jazz the broad, nearly undefinable and certainly uncapturable musical mystery it has become. Even so, as an instructor of the American idiom, Myette appears well poised to build on his own work through his students and to sustain and feed the heart and soul which make jazz one of a kind.
I was first exposed to jazz by my high school girlfriend's father. On the one hand he was the school's Vice Principal, on the other
he was a big Miles Davis fan. He gave me my first jazz record, Miles at the Blackhawk.