This is pianist Bill Mays’ 35th recording as a leader in an overall discography that exceeds 150 recordings as leader, sideman or collaborator. His CDs on Palmetto Records with Matt Wilson and Martin Wind are among the most memorable in his career. After more than a decade they have reunited to make this live document of where they were musically on September 9th, 2018. COTA refers to Celebration Of The Arts, the annual jazz festival held in Pennsylvania's beautiful Delaware Water Gap. Bill says, “Matt’s and Martin‘s contributions are extra special because not only are they wonderful soloists but they’re also composers, arrangers, and bandleaders themselves, so they bring all that experience to the table.” The trio is planning another recording later this year, but, as
Bill says, “This performance was so special and so representative of how this trio acts and reacts together that I couldn’t NOT put it out.” So with great care and overnight speed it was edited, mixed, and released on Bill’s own No Blooze Music label. During the years this trio was “dormant“ Bill was busy writing and recording many diverse projects: his Inventions Trio (with trumpeter Marvin Stamm and cellist Alisa Horn); a duo venture with guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo; two CDs with Phil Woods; two Sondheim–themed CDs with bassist Tommy Cecil; a quartet recording with drummer Todd Strait; and Bill’s highly acclaimed solo piano double-CD Front Row Seat. [View his complete discography HERE.] Of the material on the CD Bill says, "The pairing of “Darn That Dream” with "Dream" started as an exercise to show students how to vary and drastically re-harmonize a beloved old chestnut. “Sun Of The East” is my contrafact on a standard, and is dedicated to Lennie Tristano. Bill Evans’ “Your Story” is followed by “Goodbye Mr. Evans,” Phil Woods’ tribute to the venerable pianist. My original “Next Right Thing” (subtitled “an extravagant soft-shoe”) features the exquisite, dancing brushwork of Matt Wilson. Usually done as a ballad “Never Let Me Go” is given an upbeat samba feel. Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” features bassist Martin Wind on my unusual arrangement in 5/4 time.” The program ends with a surprise vocal by Mays on Bob Dorough’s “Nothing Like You.” The CD is dedicated to Dorough and to Woods.
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"Darn That Dream"
Downbeat Magazine, July 2019
by Suzanne Lorge
At 150 recordings strong, pianist Bill Mays had no shortage of material for last year’s Celebration of the Arts festival in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. The live recording from that gig, Live At COTA (No Blooze 3; 55:45 ++++), reunites Mays with bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson for their first trio release in a decade. As hard-swinging as ever, the three players can displace atoms with their combined fire. They made room for some poignant homages, though: “Goodbye, Mr. Evans,” for Bill Evans; “Sun Of The East” for pianist/com-poser Lennie Tristano; and “Nothing Like You” for pianist/composer Bob Dorough.
The New York City Jazz Record, June 2019
by Donald Elfman
This spirited new recording—the first in ten years by this trio—reflects the timeless brilliance of its leader. Pianist Bill Mays, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson prove that the magic that brought them together is still working all these years later. Live at COTA is a performance taken from the Celebration Of The Arts Festival near Mays’ Pennsylvania home. The pianist opens solo and is soon joined by his simpatico compatriots in a quiet and rhapsodic reharmonization of Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Mercer’s “Darn That Dream”, which blends naturally and easily into that pair’s “Dream”. Jay Livingston-Ray Evans’ “Never Let Me Go” is given a dancing, samba groove, with insistent brushes, pulsing bass (including an arco solo) and light but solid piano. Among Mays’ originals are “Sun of the East”, dedicated to Lennie Tristano, a reworking of another standard—which we’re invited to guess—and, in the spirit of the past, “The Next Right Thing”, subtitled “An Extravagant Soft Shoe”. Wilson on brushes keeps that softness pulsing and the dance a swinging affair. And for a modern standard, there is Wayne Shorter’s delicate and beautiful “Infant Eyes”, which Wind
moves forward with a subtle take on and improvisations from the melody. The album is dedicated to departed spirits,
saxophonist Phil Woods and pianist/singer Bob Dorough. Mays plays a piano that belonged to Woods and celebrates the saxophonist’s own tribute to the passing of Bill Evans, the shimmering “Goodbye Mr. Evans” preceded by Evans’ own rarely played “Your Story”. As a surprise closer, Mays sings the charmingly wacky Dorough tune “Nothing Like You” (famous for its version on Miles Davis’ Sorcerer). It’s a gas from start to finish, with the raspy vocal recalling the
composer and the trio romping straightahead. Live at COTA gleams with spirit, wit and joy.
Jersey Jazz, May 2019
by Joe Lang
When considering the truly special pianists on the scene today, the name BILL MAYS is almost guaranteed to be among those mentioned. While he has often worked with Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums in a trio format, it had been over ten years since they had recorded an album together. Their performance at the Deer Head Inn during the COTA Festival in September 2018 provided the opportunity to capture them in magnificent form in a live performance, and the results can be heard on Live at COTA (No Blooze Music – 003). The program is nothing short of superb. An opening “Dream” medley, Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream” and Johnny Mercer’s “Dream,” sets a high bar that the trio clears constantly throughout the set. A couple of Mays originals, “Sun of the East – To Tristano” and “Next Right Thing – An Extravagant Soft-Shoe,” gives the listener a taste of the fine composing talent of Mays. Mays pays tribute to one of his inspirations, Bill Evans, with a medley of “Your Story” by Evans, and “Goodbye Mr. Evans” by Phil Woods. His improvisations on “Never Let Me Go” are taken at a tempo that is considerably faster than this song is usually approached, with some nifty arco bass from Wind an added bonus. Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” is a feature for Wind, and he nails it. They close with a nod to the late Bob Dorough, a mainstay of the Pocono jazz scene, with a nice take on “Nothing Like You,” a rare vocal from Mays. This is Mays and his mates at their peak, and that is as good as it gets.
by Jurg Sommer
Piano trio on high flight
Highest praise for the trio of pianist Bill Mays comes from the recently deceased singer-songwriter Pianist Bob Dorough, who called it: "The Million-Dollar Trio !." This Live CD recorded at the legendary "Deer Heads Inn" jazz hotel in September of 2018 verifies Dorough's assessment.In the stylistically widely faceted set (Standards plus Tunes by Mays, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods, Bob Dorough), Mays and his longtime partners Martin Wind (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums) seem audibly inspired and elevated to new highs by the enthusiastic and moved audience.