Recent Listening: Mays, Weidman, Drummond

Bill Mays, Mays at the Movies (Steeplechase). The pianist is a veteran of motion picture sound Mays Movies.jpgstages, but in this stimulating trio session he’s free from click tracks, conductors and scores. With bassist Peter Washington and drummer Billy Drummond, Mays interprets nine pieces from films as disparate as Cocoanut Grove (1938) and Burn After Reading (2008). Highlights: his thorough exploration of the love theme from ‘Spartacus;” the dazzling succession of key changes on “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” in 5/4 time; the inventiveness in his multifaceted composition “Judy;” his interaction with Washington on “The Summer Knows;” Drummond’s cymbal splashes in “Charade.” Mays sings “You Leave Me Breathless” at least as well as Fred McMurray did in Cocoanut Grove, and personalizes the harmonic changes of that beautiful, neglected song.
James Weidman, Three Worlds (Inner Circle). No doubt because he has devoted much of his careerThumbnail image for weidman.jpg to accompanying singers, pianist Weidman’s public image lags behind his talent and his respect in the jazz community. His stunning work with Joe Lovano (mentioned here) has helped to bring him to wider attention. This intriguing album may do more. The quintet pieces with reedman Marty Ehrlich and the shaggy-dog trombone of Ray Anderson are the most spectacular and entertaining, but Weidman’s work in trio and quartet settings is equally riveting for his touch, solo construction and rhythmic chance-taking. As in Lovano’s band, Weidman and drummer Francisco Mela have a symbiotic relationship that may arise from ESP. All of the compositions are Weidman’s but “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho,” which lends itself nicely to an adventurous treatment by Weidman, Mela and bassist Brad Jones.
Anne Drummond, Like Water (ObliqSound). After Drummond moved from Seattle to New York 10 years ago to study, pianist Kenny Barron, one of her teachers, was so impressed with Drummond Like Water.jpgher flute playing that he recruited her for his group Canta Brasil. Her first recording as a leader testifies to impressive development. The lightness, firmness and tonal exactness of her sound combine in this delightful recital with a feeling for the rhythmic and harmonic subtleties of post-bossa nova Brazilian music. Drummond’s arrangements and compositions for a chamber ensemble including violin and cello indicate a mature writing talent. The veteran Brazilians Nilson Matta on bass and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca are among the supporting cast. The pianist, impressive accompanying and soloing, is Klaus Mueller, except on one track with the always satisfying Xavier Davis

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