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Jon Mayer: My Romance

To fully appreciate the sonic quality of Reservoir recordings, you need to spend an afternoon with a stack of CDs (as jazz journalists have been known to do). When you get to the Reservoir album, the sound jumps at you. That new deep energy all around you is called bass. Those people suddenly in the room with you are the musicians. Reservoir uses Jim Anderson, the most skilled American engineer now recording jazz.

The combination of Anderson’s sound and Jon Mayer’s musicianship makes My Romance thoroughly rewarding. The concept is for Mayer’s trio (with Rufus Reid and Dick Berk) to revisit “underperformed” standards, like “Everything I Love” by Cole Porter and “I Have Dreamed” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Mayer chose the songs based on their “irresistible melodic magnetism.” But since Mayer’s native language is hard bop, he does not treat this material gently. Every performance generates heat, including ballads like “But Beautiful.” Mayer is a thoroughly mainstream pianist, yet his way of embedding a song’s melody within his own elaborations and displacements creates continuous subtle surprises.

The most memorable piece is the title track, taken solo. “My Romance” is slower and perhaps sadder than most versions, and the recorded sound renders every pensive nuance.

Originally Published