John Mackay, piano and synthesizer; Steve Zerlin and Wilbur Krebs, bass; Paul Distel and Michael Aragon, drums
This wonderfully expressive session from Novato, California based pianist John Mackay is evidence that the future of the Jazz piano trio is secure. Mackay is a thoughtful, introspective colorist who carefully paces his improvisations to logical and peaceful resolutions. There's nothing bombastic about this musical aesthetic. The teachings of Bhagavan Adi Da Samraj provide inspiration for a suite of highly cohesive solos, each bearing a marked focal point or climax. A singing, orchestral approach to the piano is favored throughout, and the leader wisely recognizes the value of simplicity in melodic development.
One is not likely to hear more personal interpretations of the familiar standards, "Smile," "Bye Bye Blackbird," and "You and the Night and the Music," each of which is masterfully reharmonized. Mackay's challenging "Psychotic Dance Moves" is a gem, a fascinating exploration of polyrhythms and group dynamics.
Peaced Heart and Often Grin is a refreshing example of musical form at the service of content.
James D. Armstrong Jr.
New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000