Sunday Night Jazz Showcase
Program #126 (July 17 at 8:00PM)
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 for Trend (1983).
In 1984, Mays moved to New York and since then he has worked with Murphy, Gerry Mulligan, Ron Carter, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, and the Mel Lewis Orchestra, among others. In the late 80's Mays recorded for DMP (duet records with Ray Drummond) and in 1992 released several discs on Concord. These dates found Mays in a variety of settings, beginning with the unaccompanied Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 26 (Bill Mays at Maybeck), followed by a trio date An Ellington Affair, a duet with guitarist Ed Bickett Concord Duo, Vol. 7: Bill Mays and Ed Bickert and finallly backed by a full band on Mays in Manhattan.
In 2001 the pianist recorded his 11th album as a leader and his first for the Palmetto label, Summer Sketches, followed two years later by Going Home.
Ray Drummond is one of jazz's busiest session players. His deep, smooth bass playing has been heard on more than 300 albums, including recordings by Art Farmer, David Murray, Houston Person, Stan Getz, Kenny Burrell, Kevin Mahogany, Toots Thielemans, Benny Golson, and Ray Bryant.
On his own, Drummond has led three bands -- Excursion, featuring David Sanchez, Craig Handy, Stephen Scott, Mor Thiam, and Billy Hart; the Ray Drummond Quintet, with Hart, Handy, and Stephen Scott, and a duo, One on One, shared with Bill Mays. He continues to co-lead the Drummonds, with his brother, Billy, and Renee Rosnes.
The son of an army colonel, Drummond attended 14 schools around the world as a youngster. Although he played trumpet from the age of eight, and French horn, a high-school music teacher encouraged him to switch to the bass. Briefly settling in northern California, he earned a Bachelor degree in political science at Claremont Men's College in June 1968. Continuing his education at the Stanford Business School, he earned a Masters degree in business administration.
While in San Francisco, he played with Bobby Hutcherson, Michael White, Ed Kelly, Tom Harrell, Eddie Marshall, and Lester Young's niece, Martha Young. He taught at Monterey Peninsula College of Music in 1975.
Moving to New York in 1977, Drummond worked as a session bass player for Betty Carter, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra,Wynton Marsalis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Jon Faddis, Milt Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Barron, Pharoah Sanders, and George Coleman.
In addition to working as a sideman and leading his own bands, Drummond has continued to teach. He currently serves as an assistant professor of jazz theory and practice at California State University and has conducted master classes at the Berklee College of Music, Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts, and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland.
(story provided by Allmusic)