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July/August 2001

Bill Mays Trio
Summer Sketches
Palmetto Records

Pianist Bill Mays, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson follow up their excellent but unheralded Out in PA. CD of 1999 with this collection based on music having to do with summer. One of the masters of color and touch among today's pianists, Mays makes the most of possibilities in original compositions by members of the trio and an attractive batch of works by others. The songs include his own "Fireflies," a piece of pointillism that manages to evoke the subject of the title without hitting the listener over the head with its cleverness. Wilson's "(Gotta Go to) Summer School" stutters its way into a blues groove, encourages plenty of drum accents and gives Mays an opportunity to explore the piano's double life as a stringed instrument by doing some plucking. Bassist Wind's contribution is the impressionistic "Early August," which features-guess what-a bass solo, a good one.

Mays rescues Russ Freeman's "Summer Sketch" from its undeserved obscurity and gives it a sensitive performance. The trio also does Benny Carter's "Summer Serenade," nicely observing its samba spirit. The Brazilian companion piece is "Estate" ("summer," in Portuguese), with Mays and Wind sharing the melody. Wind's brushwork on "Estate" is notable for its quiet swing. The remaining pieces are "Summer Night," "The Things We Did Last Summer," with Mays' and Wind's stimulating changes, and "Once Upon a Summertime."

This album would be good company out on the deck on a starry summer night or maybe even better in front of the fireplace during a snowstorm.

Originally published in July/August 2001
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