Pianist Bill Mays and trumpet maestro Marvin Stamm open this exquisite collection with a delightful duo on "Baubles, Bangles and Beads." As impressive as the opening dialogue is, the program blossoms with the addition of cellist Alisa Horn on the following Rachmaninoff composition, "Vocalese." The trio likes to refer to their music as existing at "the intersection of chamber music and jazz." As stuffy as that may sound, this is anything but. The music is light, yet profound, enjoyable, yet obviously the work of three serious and accomplished musicians. The three-section "Fantasy for Cello, Trumpet and Piano," for instance, incorporates elements of chamber jazz that rise above previous efforts in that there is a more dramatic flair. There is a breathing quality to the title movements that lends them the quality of musical life well lived. Each of the movements feature the musicians separately and in interaction, in a fashion more commonly associated with jazz, though the structure is more closely aligned with the classical forms. Mays and Stamm come from a jazz background, but Ms. Horn came from a classical background, with no real concept of improvisation. This is something she learned and now excels at.
May’s solo on Gershwin’s "Prelude 2" is percussive. When Stamm joins in he maintains that percussive feel, giving it a New Orleans-style bluesy taste. The following "Prelude Op 11 #3," attributed to Shostakovich, allows Mays to shine in a classical context under Stamm’s lilting trumpet.
Horn re-joins the duo on Debussy’s "Girl With the Flaxen Hair." As the two previous compositions served as spotlight pieces for piano and trumpet, respectively, this showcases cello to some degree, even though there are extended sections that spotlight each of the instrumentalists. The closing piece, entitled "Invention #8/Ah-Leu-Cha," is that intersection realized. Here is a combination of compositions from both JS Back and Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, a couple of icons if ever there were. This is another piano/trumpet duologue on which the playing is simply spectacular. This comes highly recommended.