Tommy Cecil, bass & Bill Mays, piano – Side By Side: Sondheim Duos [TrackList follows] – 2012TommyCecil ****:
Here’s something unique in the jazz area—a CD devoted entirely to jazz versions of music by Stephen Sondheim and played by a piano and bass duo at that. The project was put together by Cecil, a leading bassist in the Washington D.C. area, and among other things it points up the high musical value of Sondheim’s work, since we’re hearing the tunes without his lyrics. Both performers show great empathy and technical chops on the opening “Something’s Coming,” although this one is one of two exceptions since the actual music here was by Leonard Bernstein. The other exception is “Small World” from Gypsy, with music by Jule Styne. The arrangements are all clever and innovative, and since I think many drummers have little taste and play too loud, I couldn’t be happier that this is just piano and bass. One certainly won’t miss the drummer.
Having just seen the stage production of Sweeney Todd last week locally, it was a kick to hear the duo’s two selections from that Sondheim musical, “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” and “Not While I’m Around.” Cecil’s bass, sometimes bowed, has a major voice here, not being just accompaniment to May’s piano. The last track closer is “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and it ends things on a fine jocund note. The CD is available at CD Baby.
Something’s Coming, Not While I’m Around, Broadway Baby, Every Day a Little Death, Ballad of Sweeney Todd, Small World, Side by Side by Side, Anyone Can Whistle, Comedy Tonight
Pure Pleasure Records releases a re-mastered live vinyl of a great tenor saxophonist.