In jazz, as in almost any other pursuit, there really is no stand-in for experience. P. .J. Perry
, now well into his seventh decade, has been a titan on Canada's saxophone scene for more than half a century, while California-born pianist Bill Mays
, three years Perry's junior and his able collaborator on the duo album This Quiet Room
, has partnered with or accompanied a legion of jazz luminaries from north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border. Perry and Mays apply that expertise to admirable effect on a handsomely recorded assortment of charming songs from the Great American Songbook and elsewhere whose essential premise is that saxophone / piano sessions needn't be bland or sleep-inducing.
That point of view is borne out in the unconventional opener, Bud Powell
's light-hearted "Parisian Thoroughfare," on which Perry and Mays show that bop-based chord changes and a lively tempo pose no problem whatsoever. Also, that soloing in that milieu is akin to second nature for both of them. Having proven the point, tempos modulate for the most part to even-tempered with two notable exceptions: Charlie Parker
's lyrical "Laird Baird" and Brooks Bowman's well-traveled standard, "East of the Sun," each of which delivers some heat. Mays' solo piano is heard on the first half of the album's lone medley, which consists of Jerome Kern's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" and Henry Mancini
's "Two for the Road."
The duo also survey Rodgers and Hart's "There's a Small Hotel" (played in waltz time), the venerable standard "Alice Blue Gown," Canadian Bernie Senensky
's quiescent ballad "In My Life" (vaguely reminiscent of Ennio Morricone's memorable theme from the film Cinema Paradiso
) and Nelson Cavaquinho's seductive samba, "Beija Flor," before closing with Michel Legrand
's aptly named "This Quiet Room." Throughout, Perry and Mays complement each other impeccably while exemplifying a high level of awareness and musicianship. That is of course essential, as theirs are the only voices heard. As twosomes go, Perry and Mays set the bar high and make sure it never wavers.
Parisian Thoroughfare; In My Life; Laird Baird; Medley (The Folks Who Live on the Hill / Two for the Road); Alice Blue Gown; There’s a Small Hotel; Beija Flor; East of the Sun; This Quiet Room.
P.J. Perry: alto saxophone; Bill Mays: piano.