Jazz as a medium of entertainment has an enduring spirit. Through evolution, the genre has expanded its sphere of influence into over 100 different styles of music. One of the reasons for this continued longevity has been jazz's ability to survive in spite of numerous controversies and social indifference. The music seems to be the most misinterpreted subject of conversation in modern times, yet those of us who love jazz for what it has to offer anxiously await the next CD or magical performance. Pianist Bill Mays is one of those individuals the jazz world has come to know and anticipate.
As the former musical director for Sarah Vaughan, Bill Mays' preparation as a leader is well-documented. Prior to working with Vaughan, Bill spent time with Bud Shank, Bobby Shew, Gerry Mulligan, Ron Carter, Sonny Stitt and numerous others. With the wide and varied experience Mays has acquired over the years, the natural order of things suggested he would record as a leader as well. Since 1982, Bill Mays has recorded numerous albums with a high degree of acclaim. He continues to do so in 2003 with his second release entitled 'Going Home' on the Palmetto Record Label. Listening to this stellar trio of musicians consisting of Mays, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson brings to bear one of the reasons why jazz is America's only original art form.
'Going Home' is a dedication to three dynamic musicians who have made their homegoing jazz passage: drummer Shelly Manne, bassist Red Mitchell and pianist Jimmy Rowles, all of whom have had a tremendous impact on Bill Mays' life. The CD is also indicative of the different homes he has lived in throughout his life. His humble beginnings in Los Angeles, the home he made with his wife Judy, the camaraderie he has found in his trio, his apartment in New York, as well as the country home he maintains in Shohola, Pennsylvania. The overall theme of 'Going Home' is quite compelling, inasmuch as the recording highlights Bill's prolific skills as a composer and arranger. The CD is filled with thoughtful nuances of rhythmic bop oriented improvised jazz. There are also melodic references to everything that is near and dear to Bill's emotional side, especially the very first track entitled "Judy" and the Cole Porter staple "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To". These two songs, along with nine additional cuts are the essence of Bill Mays 'Going Home'. Much of what has been done throughout the CD has been filled with a myriad of influences, including the track entitled "Going Home", which provides a unique jazz spin on Dvorak's classical composition 'New World Symphony'. In every sense of the word we call improvised jazz, Bill Mays carries his listeners into a realm of creativity that is bold, empathetic and melodically enticing.
When one examines Bill Mays' testament to the ideologies of jazz, it is well worth the effort of experiencing everything he has accomplished as a solo leader. In doing so, the influences of Earl "Fatha" Hines, Wynton Kelly, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Horace Silver and Jimmy Rowles are definitely heard throughout 'Going Home'. These musicians helped shape the course of events leading to a career in jazz. Throughout the world of avid admirers and jazz connoisseurs, Bill Mays has become known as an innovator and major contributor. His keyboard talents have been highly touted and utilized on numerous soundtracks as well: including 'Shaft 2', 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'Being John Malkovich' and the blockbuster movie hit '