Monday, January 2, 2012

Tim Mayer: Resilience

JLP Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Resilience

Tim Mayer began to play sax when he was 10 years old; he was introduced to jazz at Florida State University’s Summer Music Camp in 1980. Within a decade, he was working cruise ship bands, a gig that lasted until he entered Boston’s Berklee College of Music (invariably the ultimate choice of many jazz wannabes).

Mayer’s cruise ship experience exposed him to numerous countries, and their music styles, and his time at Berklee offered experience with the many jazz musicians who have attended that school. He subsequently became a sideman with literally dozens of name artists. Watiki 7, an exotica group, won consecutive Hawaiian Music Awards during the period Mayer performed with them.

Resilience, Mayer’s first album as a leader, showcases his bebop persona. His basic quartet, consisting of his tenor sax, George Cables (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Willie Jones III (drums), is supported by half a dozen top-tier guests: trumpeters Greg Gisbert, Claudio Roditi and Dominick Fasrinacci; trombonist Michael Dease; guitarist Mark Whitfield; and flutist Don Braden.

The musical menu contains Jule Styne’s seldom-heard standard “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” along with a swinging mix of jazz classics such as Thelonious Monk’s “Work,” Cables’ “Klimo” and Dease’s “For Miles,” along with originals by Mayer, Kenny Durham, Charles Tolliver, Fats Navarro and Lee Morgan.

One thing becomes clear immediately: These guys swing wonderfully.

This release illustrates a simple truth: Don’t ignore jazz artists — indeed, any musicians — simply because they’re unfamiliar. Take the time to check out unknowns; you’ll often find a gem under the plastic wrap. Tim Mayer and his friends fall into that category.

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