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Bill Mays: Mays in Manhattan

What fun to arrange, stamping a project with your creative imprint. Pianist Bill Mays does just that on Mays In Manhattan. With the well known (“Autumn in New York”) and lesser known (Lennie Tristano’s “317 E. 32nd St.”), Mays takes a trio and sextet ride around the isle of Manhattan.

Mays channels his natural exuberance through his sextet arrangements. The surprise infusion of horns after his solo opening in “Manhattan” gets our attention. And passing the melody line of “New York State of Mind” from one player to the next, starting with Ed Neumeister’s trombone, gives this tune an unexpected freshness and texture. Also adding warmth, sizzle and swing are trumpeter Marvin Stamm and saxophonist Jon Gordon.

The trio tracks, however, are unarranged, with bassist Sean Smith and drummer Tim Horner traveling spontaneously on Mays’ wavelength. These pieces have a different feel, presenting a Manhattan that’s less cacophonous but a tad darker.

The Bronx may be up and the Battery down, but Bill Mays is all around the town. Take a ride with him.

Originally Published