Jon Mayer


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Jon Mayer's understated piano style likely doesn't wow many who depend on speed and image to impress. What Mayer does offer is a musicality and taste level that underscore his finely honed talent in this classic piano-bass-drums trio setting. Not a Young Lion, Mayer has been playing like this for many moons, producing this ninth trio effort, mixing standards and bop with a few originals and some thoughtful choices for famous songs to interpret. With the great bassist Rufus Reid and veteran drummer Roy McCurdy on their second collective go-round since the 2007 CD So Many Stars, Mayer seems to know he would be hard-pressed to find better partners in mainstream modern jazz. As a collective, these three easily breeze through well-known chestnuts such as an easy swinging "The Touch of Your Lips" and the simple and light "Dancing in the Dark," featuring McCurdy's sensitive brushwork. Conversely, they fly through "Bohemia After Dark" with a bit of haphazardness, ramble through the excellent road song swinger "Day by Day," and uplift the hard bop, Bud Powell-like, jaunty Horace Silver nugget "Room 608." They're at their best during the Harold Land-penned buried treasure of a tune "Rapture," as a modal foundation leads to some wondrous left-hand piano and bass unison lines that strike straight and true over a tick-tock beat and some beautifully evocative melody strains. Mayer's originals include the late-night mood music/ballad title track and the basic "Blues Junction," which sounds like it could have been written for Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, here sans horns, back in the '50s, with perhaps Ray Bryant, Junior Mance, or Silver doing the imaginary honors on piano. Reid continues to be a peerless in-demand bassist, while McCurdy seems to have lost nothing over his many years as a top-notch drummer. While Mayer's discography and this album battle against far too many other recordings of similar instrumentation, the subtle under-the-surface nuances akin to Bill Evans provide valuable lessons in flying below the rat-race, speed-demon side of contemporary music, and kudos to him for that.

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