Bill Mays, Historian: Surprise Video

RERUNThe piece below ran earlier this month. After it was posted for a few days, the videos were removed. No one at Rifftides or the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts has been able to find out why. Several readers have asked what happened and whether we can restore the videos. The answers are: I don’t know and, yes. Let’s hope that the mystery remover doesn’t strike again.
Originally posted August 3, 2013

In one of my Rifftides posts on last October’s Oregon Coast Jazz Party, I told you a little about the remarkable program in which Bill Mays traced the development of modern jazz piano. Here’s that section from October 12, 2012

Bill Mays’ History of Jazz Piano concert for a morning audience covered pianists from James P. Johnson to Herbie Hancock. Teddy Wilson, Bill Evans and Bud Powell were among the 13 whose styles Mays summoned without surrendering his individuality. Tommy Flanagan and Sonny Clark had to be set aside when time ran short. I had the privilege of providing narration leading into each of Bill’s segments. That put me in the second best seat in the house in the curve of the nine-foot Steinway as Mays poured himself into interpreting some of the pianists who influenced his development. It was a great experience, with a responsive audience, and so much fun that we’re thinking of doing it again sometime, somewhere.

When the program ended, Bill and I were satisfied enough with it that we sought out the house audio crew to see if they had recorded it. They hadn’t. Well, that was the end of that, we said, although as noted at the conclusion of the report, we hoped that we could do it again. We still do. It turns out that the concert hadn’t quite disappeared. Yesterday we discovered that the festival management had a snippet of it videotaped.

But wait, there’s more. The following morning, Bill played a trio set with Portland bassist Tom Wakeling and Washington, DC, drummer Chuck Redd. Here’s some of what I wrote about it:

The Sunday morning wrap session began with Mays updating and expanding the repertoire of his CD Mays at the Movies. He, Wakeling and Redd concentrated on music from films he admires, has written for, or on whose soundtracks he played. The admiration category included the classics “Laura,” “The Very Thought of You” and “Smile.” His own “Cool Pool” was a Miles Davis “All Blues” clone that he wrote for a producer who didn’t want to pay a heavy licensing fee to use the Davis original.

Holly Hofmann, the gifted flutist who serves as the Oregon Coast Jazz Party’s music director, explains that she has only short portions of the festival concerts videotaped for use in promotion and marketing. Gratitude for small favors is in order, but it’s too bad that there aren’t full-length videos for the archives.

Go here for information about the 2013 festival October 4-6.

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  1. Lucille Dolab says

    So grateful to you, Doug, and to Holly for sharing this remarkable and beautiful set of videos! Bill is a treasure and your narration connects the dots so well! This excerpt from the presentation at the Oregon Coast Jazz Party has whetted the appetite for more! Only wish we could have been there for the entire program!