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Album Review

Tenor saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz has concentrated more on his career as a jazz educator then recording as a leader, but his relatively infrequent trips into the studio are quite enjoyable. An earlier quintet session with pianist Bill Mays produced a terrific tribute to Sonny Rollins (One For Newk); this time it is just the two of them in a series of stimulating duets that prove to be musical conversations. Eskovitz has both a fat tone and a gift for melody, while Mays consistently amazes with imaginative lines to stimulate the tenor saxophonist. The rich but tense "Invitation," a slowly savored "Like Someone in Love," and a dreamy interpretation of "My Romance" (with an unforgettable introduction by Mays) are among the brilliant arrangements of standards on the date. They are also equally successful in their approaches to classic jazz compositions, including a buoyant "Joy Spring," Charlie Parker's playful "Blues for Alice," and a peppy treatment of Hank Mobley's "This I Dig of You." Mays' "Tease for Two" (obviously a reworking of "Tea for Two") is jaunty and a lot of fun; Eskovitz's two originals salute Sonny Rollins ("Just in the 'Newk' of Time") and Lester Young ("Prez"); both works capture the spirit of the honored musicians without resorting to emulating them. This CD is a pure delight from start to finish.


Born: 05 February 1944 in Sacramento, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A fine pianist, Bill Mays has often worked behind the scenes, leading to him being a somewhat overlooked jazz improviser. Mays worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician from the late '60s on, accompanying Sarah Vaughan (1972-1973) and Al Jarreau (1975), but mostly doing session work. In the early '80s, he began to record jazz as a sideman with Howard Roberts, Bud Shank, Bobby Shew, Road Work Ahead, and Mark Murphy. He recorded a duet date with Red Mitchell for ITI (1982) and led a quintet album...
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Conversations, Bill Mays
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