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Jon Mayer: Full Circle

Pianist Jon Mayer’s fourth CD since his return to full-time jazz activity a decade ago takes him back to New York, where he first recorded in the 1950s with Jackie McLean and John Coltrane. Following two albums with his Los Angeles rhythm section of bassist Bob Maize and drummer Harold Mason, Mayer checks in on Full Circle with New York stalwarts Rufus Reid and Victor Lewis.

The CD opens with Mayer applying his Wynton Kelly blues conception in a reprise of “Round Up the Usual Suspects,” the title tune from his 1994 recording debut as a leader. He is most convincing on that piece and the album’s other blues, “Stolen Moments.” Other highlights include the sinewy waltz-time swing of his composition “Full Circle”; the rich voicings of his solo performance of a single chorus on J. J. Johnson’s “Lament”; and a “For All We Know” that plumbs the ballad’s poignancy.

On faster pieces, notably “Night and Day, ” “Falling in Love With Love” and to a lesser degree on Tom Harrell’s “From Now On,” hesitancy in note choices and phrasing makes Mayer’s lines less than compelling. That problem tends to go away at medium tempos on “I Should Care” and “Day Dream.” Reid and Lewis do not solo, but combine in strength and subtlety to give Mayer ideal support.

Originally Published