Pianist Bill Mays writes that "Summer Sketches" reflects his love of summer "especially out in Pennsylvania-the Delaware River, the herons, egrets and bull frogs down at the lake's edge, the bats, blue jays, and barn swallows, and especially the sounds of a summer night: tree frogs, crickets, owls, fireflies, and the 'click-click' of the katydids." His evocation of summer scenes is nostalgic. It is like that Ray Bradbury short story in which an adolescent boy receives a brand new pair of sneakers at the beginning of summer that seemingly makes him run faster and jump higher. But, as summer slowly fades into fall, the shoes become worn out and have lost their initial magic. The Bill Mays Trio conveys this same type of introspective mood throughout the album: the promise of summer, the weary sigh of summer expired.
The music begins on an up-beat, hopeful note on 'Summer Night.' It immediately turns rather pensive on 'Estate (Summer),' then turns into a nocturnal light show on the magical 'Fireflies.' '(Gotta Go To) Summer School' displays some of the riotous thoughts of a kid stuck indoors while the lure of sunshine beckons. The bass fiddle is featured 'The Things We Did Last Summer' that recalls summers spent and perhaps loves lost. This is not an extroverted, beachboyed summer but a reflective, ultimately lonely one.
Bill Mays, Matt Wilson and Martin Wind work together well to draw out the range of summer moods. The playing is inventive, nuanced and sensitive. This is quite an album of beautiful jazz music.