Finally, a chamber group that swings! With this unconventional instrumentation of Piano, trumpet and cello, Bill Mays has opened a new page in jazz. With his long time friend and associate, Marvin Stamm and the introduction of classically trained cellist, Alisa Horn, they've produced an inspiring and spirited, both classical and jazz, set of music that is refreshing, thoughtful and original. Marvin’s approach to this music is soft and trained in the classical nuances to give the music its new found dignity, but occasionally reminding us from whence he came by adding a lick or two of bebop while quickly returning to the dignity of the classical posture. As I’ve often said of Marvin’s playing: it’s clear, articulate, each note punctuated by feelings and mood. His swing is subtle but comes from far beneath the veneer of showy, and technical wizardry, he merely gives us the essence of his musical expertise so that we’re able to catch its handle and feel along the emotions and moods of his playing.
Bill Mays has probably done it all. His accomplishments are enormous and too many to list. Just take a glance at his Itinerary. He’s played with everyone from Shelly Manne to Frank Zappa and to see him perform is an exhilarating experience for the listener. I personally recall a duo set he played with Bud Shank in San Diego, sometime ago, that was refreshing, innovative and a kick to see and hear.
The set opens with Baubles, bangles, and beads with just Marvin and Bill. This is one of their favorite tunes that has been featured on some of their other recordings. The exchanges between the trio on Girl with the Flaxen Hair, from a listener’s standpoint, are soothing and as music, brings us to another place.
My favorite track, Invention #8 /Ah-Leu-Cha begins as a Bach exercise terrifically executed by Bill and Marvin. Ah, but then the surprise comes in! They immediately change gears and smoothly go from Bach to Bird. This is how a chamber group swings and remains standing up with complete dignity and poise. When Marvin and Bill play unaccompanied the magic flies and you have to snap your fingers and dig it even when it switches back to Bach.
This is a highly recommended recording for both the classical or jazz aficionados. There is enough here for everyone to enjoy.
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01 - Baubles, Bangles, and Beads
02 - Vocalise
03 - Fantasy Mvt 1
04 - Fantasy Mvt 2
05 - Fantasy Mvt 3
06 - Prelude No. 2
07 - Prelude Op. 11 No. 3_Sometime Ago
08 - Girl With The Flaxen Hair
09 - Invention No. 8_Ah-Leu-Cha