Desert Island Jazz
Jon Mayer (2005)

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For far too long, Jon Mayer–an emotive, playful and superbly inventive bebop-based pianist who always delivers ear-pleasing improvisations–was one of jazz’ better kept secrets.

His story started in the mid-to-late ‘50s, after the Harlem-born piano ace had graduated from the famed High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and briefly attended the Manhattan School of Music. Mayer then became a regularly- appearing member of the thriving NYC music scene, playing with Kenny Dorham, Tony Scott, Pete LaRoca and Ray Draper, and eventually recording with two of the greatest saxophonists ever: Jackie McLean on Strange Blues (Prestige/OJC) and John Coltrane, on a session known as the legendary "I Talk With The Trees" date and finally issued in 1990 as part of Coltrane’s Like Sonny (Roulette).

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Mayer remained active, playing in both New York and Europe with the likes of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan and the Manhattan Transfer, and writing songs recorded by Les McCann, Nancy Wilson and others.

Then, due to numerous causes, he all but disappeared, entering a 13-year period of inactivity during which he rarely performed.

But by 1991, Mayer was ready to return to music. He settled in Los Angeles and once again seriously pursued his career in the jazz world. People who heard him, initially with McCann’s Magic Band and as a leader, were readily impressed with his artistry, characterized by a supple and relaxed rhythmic feel and a keen sense of melodicism in his solos. Here was an authentic jazz musician, an artist who desired, as did Charlie Parker when stating his own personal goal, to play fast and clean and go for the pretty notes.
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Horace Silver Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers Room 608 (Blue Note)
# 2 Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings: the Master Takes Just Friends (Verve)
# 3 Count Basie with Joe Turner The Bosses Flip, Flop and Fly (Pablo)
# 4 Bill Evans Conversations with Myself 'Round Midnight (Verve)
# 5 Gigi Gryce, featuring Thelonious Monk Nica's Tempo Nica's Tempo (Savoy)
# 6 John Contrane Traneing In Traneing In (OJC)
# 7 Miles Davis Milestones Two Bass Hit (Columbia)
# 8 Erroll Garner Concerts by the Sea Teach Me Tonight (Columbia)
Book Lawrence Durrell, "The Alexandria Quartet"
Luxury Item A Sharper Image massage chair
Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast
Alt 1 Count Basie, featuring Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis The Atomic Mr Basie Whirlybird (Roulette)
Alt 2 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers A Night at Birdland, Vol. 2 Wee Dot (Blue Note)
Alt 3 Wynton Kelly Kelly at Midnight On Stage (Vee-Jay)
Alt 4 Frank Sinatra Only the Lonely Angel Eyes (Capitol)
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