The Classics

Jon Mayer

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The Classics Review

by Ken Dryden

Jon Mayer's concept for this trio CD was simple; interpret hits composed by jazz musicians during the 1950s and 1960s which haven't been recorded very often in the 21st century. Accompanied by Rufus Reid on bass, and drummer Willie Jones III, Mayer's years of experience come to the forefront with his fresh looks at gems such as Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty," Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me," (a marvelous blend of bossa nova and hard bop), and Bill Evans' intricate "Very Early." The jaunty take of Sonny Rollins' blues-soaked "Solid" features Reid's driving bassline and some wailing piano from the leader. The bittersweet ballad "Don't Misunderstand," a favorite of singers like Carmen McRae and Arthur Prysock, packs a punch with Mayer's touching interpretation. One piece that dates from a later period is Kenny Barron's mid-1980s post-bop masterpiece "Voyage," which is well on its way to becoming a jazz standard; Mayer stretches the boundaries of this exciting composition. It seems hard to believe how few albums Jon Mayer has recorded up to the time of this 2003 session, but he more than makes the most of every opportunity to record as a leader, as he does on this brilliant CD.

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