Pianist Bill Mays and trumpeter-flugelhornist Marvin Stamm are just back from a European tour. One of their trip’s highlights was a March 20 concert in Cologne, Germany, with the formidable WDR Big Band. The theme was New York State Of Mind, with compositions by Mays, Stamm, George Gershwin, Billy Joel and Duke Ellington, among others. The pair’s exhaustive preparation for the concert included Mays arranging Thelonious Monk’s “52nd Street Theme” with complexity, irony and wit that I can imagine would have given Monk enormous pleasure. Both visiting Americans play impressively throughout, as do the resident soloists of the WDR BB. Stamm’s playing on “New York State of Mind” and Mays’s on “52nd Street Theme” deserve special mention. Rich DeRosa conducted the band and arranged “Take the ‘A’ Train.” Mays wrote all the other arrangements.
The WDR has posted audio of the concert on its website. It will be there for 30 days. Fair warning for non-German speakers: Most of the narration is in German. Mays’s, Stamm’s and DeRosa’s announcements are in English. The music is in Esperanto.
Additional warning: as far as I can discover, there is no possibility of fast-forwarding or rewinding the concert audio. There is a Pauserien (pause) button. In the course of a two-hour concert, that could come in handy. To find the WDR Big Band website and listen to the concert, go here.