Bill Mays, photo by Judy Kirtley
(MADISON, NJ) -- Pianist Bill Mays has recorded 40 albums as a leader, but his newest, Autumn Serenade, released in May on the Sunnyside label, may be his favorite. And, it reunited him with the other two members of a trio that played with baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan in the 1980s – bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ron Vincent.
This trio will be performing several selections from Autumn Serenade on Sunday, October 8, at the New Jersey Jazz Society’s Jersey Jazz Live! concert at the Madison, NJ, Community Arts Center. There will also be some new original compositions, mostly written by Mays during Covid.
Among the selections from Autumn Serenade likely to be featured at Jersey Jazz Live! are: the title track, written by Sammy Gallop and Peter De Rose and made famous by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman; Mays’ “Autumn with Vivaldi”, incorporating a melodic theme with the composer’s celebrated “Four Seasons”; Wayne Shorter’s “Fall”; and a spirited transformation of Bernice Petkere’s “Lullaby of the Leaves”, a favorite of the late pianist Jimmy Rowles.
In his review of Autumn Serenade, Dan Bilawsky of AllAboutJazz called it “a bountiful harvest of seasonally-bound beauties . . . a musical journey filled with reflection and romance. As seasonscapes go,” Bilawsky added, “it’s truly hard to beat this set. While approaching 80 years of age, Bill Mays remains at the top of his game.”
In addition to Mulligan, Mays has played with such well-known jazz artists as alto saxophonists Phil Woods and Bud Shank, vocalist Mark Murphy, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. He remembers that when he moved from Los Angeles to New York in the early 1980s, his first East Coast gig was playing with Shank, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Ronnie Bedford at the now defunct New Jersey club, Gulliver’s in West Paterson.
The Bill Mays Trio will be preceded by a Rising Stars opening act featuring a trio of William Paterson University Jazz Studies students led by trumpeter Violet Mujica, a resident of Montclair, NJ. The other members of the trio are guitarist Sam Wagner from Saratoga Springs, NY, and bassist Julian Rogai from Delaware Water Gap, PA. At Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2022 Essentially Ellington competition, Mujica received Honorable Mention on trumpet as a member of the Jazz House Kids Band.
The Madison Community Arts Center is located at 10 Kings Road in Madison, New Jersey. Admission to this event will be $10 for NJJS members and $15 for non-members. There will be light refreshments for purchase. Tickets are available for purchase online and may also be purchased at the door.
Funding for Jersey Jazz Live! has been made possible, in part, by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of The National Endowment for the Arts.