Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

345

Kevin Hays Trio: What Survives

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Like trumpeter Tim Hagans, whose recent release Beautiful Lily represents a welcome return to recording as a leader, pianist Kevin Hays is back with three records in the space of one year, following a seven-year break. Piano Works III: Open Range (ACT, 2005) is a solo effort, while his forthcoming ArtistShare disc features his longstanding trio with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart. Based on the evidence of What Survives, a recent independent release featuring the same trio from a couple of 2001 sessions, their forthcoming project will be something to watch for.

That's not to say that Hays hasn't been busy. In the years since Andalucia (Blue Note, 1996), he's played on albums by artists including Hagans, saxophonist Chris Potter and trumpeter Eddie Henderson. While he possesses the formidable technique to play in virtually any context, it's his open-mindedness and avoidance of stylistic pigeon-holing that's made him a pianist who, if not a household name to the jazz listening public, is certainly well-known in the jazz community.

For the uninitiated, What Survives is a strong entry point, highlighting Hays' abstract yet appealing writing, and a playing style that—like fellow pianist Marc Copland—is filled with impressionistically out-of-the-box yet eminently lyrical musical thinking. It also demonstrates Hays' ability to innovatively adapt classical material that's as reverential yet improvisationally profound as woodwind player Tim Garland's similar work on Acoustic Triangle's recent Resonance (Audio-B, 2005).

The album opens with three Hays originals, ranging from "Stellar, whose dark and introspective solo piano introduction evolves into lithely swinging vehicle for understated interplay between Hays, Weiss and Stewart. The title track revolves around a repeated 11/8 bass figure doubled by Weiss and Hays' left hand—the piano treated to lend it a "buzzing quality. Hays gradually builds a vivid yet economical solo while Stewart plays liberally with time placement. Hays applies a delicate electronic tremolo on the brooding "Black Elk, reminiscent of the subtle processing of Swedish pianist Esbjorn Svensson; but Hays, while equally contemporary, is less pop-inflected.

Four adaptations of classical pieces follow, with "Anniversary Waltz being the most well-known. Hays retains its familiar theme intact over Weiss and Stewart's vivid swing, but reharmonizations lend a more modernistic edge. "J.B. is the clear highlight of the album, demonstrating just how forward-thinking Hays' musical aesthetic is. Based on Brahms' "Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, it opens with reverse-attack processed piano, but ultimately moves into an organic middle section that progressively narrows the 200-year gap between its composition and Hays' performance.

An ambient reading of the classic "You are My Sunshine ends the disc on an ambiguous note that proves beauty can be found in the most somber of places. The long break between albums may have cost Hays some momentum, but also works to his advantage in allowing him to reinvent himself. What Survives is hopefully just the beginning of a renewed solo career that will finally see the confidence of the jazz community translate into profile with the larger jazz-buying public.


Track Listing: Stellar; What Survives; Black Elk; Anniversary Waltz; J.B.; Anton; Du Pre; You Are My Sunshine.

Personnel: Kevin Hays: piano; Doug Weiss: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: What Survives | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Kevin Hays
You've Got a Friend

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Hope

Hope

Newvelle Records
2017

buy
North

North

Sunnyside Records
2016

buy
New Day

New Day

Sunnyside Records
2015

buy
Variations

Variations

Pirouet Records
2011

buy
Seventh Sense

Seventh Sense

Blue Note Records
2008

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jan30Wed
Lionel Loueke, Chris Cheek, Jeff Ballard, Kevin Hays
Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
London, UK
Jan31Thu
Jeff Ballard Fairgrounds
Triskel Christchurch
Cork, Ireland
€20

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz Album Reviews
Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz
By Dan McClenaghan
January 21, 2019
Read The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two Album Reviews
The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two
By Victor L. Schermer
January 21, 2019
Read Mesophase Album Reviews
Mesophase
By Glenn Astarita
January 21, 2019
Read Rasif Album Reviews
Rasif
By Chris M. Slawecki
January 21, 2019
Read Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981 Album Reviews
Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981
By John Sharpe
January 20, 2019
Read More Than One Thing Album Reviews
More Than One Thing
By Gareth Thompson
January 20, 2019
Read Wandering Monster Album Reviews
Wandering Monster
By Roger Farbey
January 20, 2019