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Jon Mayer: The Classics

Jon Mayer does things somewhat differently. He reversed the usual exodus and defected from his native Manhattan for the lattes of L.A. in 1991 after bopping with the usual suspects early on: Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Kenny Dorham, Joe Farrell, Jackie McLean and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Mayer had a clear vision in the smog of Southern California that led to The Classics (Reservoir), a concept that eschews the Great American Songbook for the Great Bop Book: contemporary tunes written by the likes of Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Benny Golson, Bill Evans, Tadd Dameron, Benny Carter, etc. There’s even a little-known Strayhorn-type ballad by Gordon Parks called “Don’t Misunderstand” that will hopefully be born again into the repertoire.

It certainly has been a rebirth for Mayer. Now that he’s co-leading a quartet with Ernie Watts this trio recording, with outstanding support from bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Willie Jones III, provides an excellent example of Mayer’s intelligent, cleanly articulated explorations-a style suggestive of equal parts Bill Evans and Kenny Barron.

Originally Published