Bobby Shew (flh, tp), Bill Mays (p)
Reference: FSRCD 984
Bar code: 8427328609845
The release of this album marks an extremely memorable and significant part of my musical life. I have purposefully detained its release until we found an aesthetic appreciation and understanding of its content by a record company. We have found such an alliance with Jazz Hounds Records and Jack Harcourt’s sensitive ears and dedication to the purity of creativity.
Without realizing exactly how this music was created, one might not fully appreciate its significance to all involved. With a last minute cancellation of a quintet recording session by two members with major conflicts, I had a sudden urge to utilize the booked studio time by experimenting in duo form with Bill Mays, with whom I’d experienced a tremendous musical rapport and sensitivity. When Bill agreed, we merely brought with us assorted sheet music and song books and a short list of some particular ideas for tunes we each might like to try. We began by selecting a tune, a key, and then rolled the tape.
No further discussion occurred as to form, tempo, length of tune, etc. I wanted this experience to be as spontaneous as possible at that moment in time. In almost every case, only one take was done on each tune. No decisions were made as to a desired result. Telepathy I and II are totally spontaneous compositions.
Bill and I feel very honored to have been able to be the “chosen ones” to participate in making this music. I personally achieved a new sense of joy and freedom brought about by an even greater awareness and respect for the pure essence of totally spontaneous creativity through music, the highest challenge of the art form. Many musicians hope to experience this at least once in their lifetime; that we were and still are able to do it “at the drop of a hat” humbles us tremendously while filling our lives with the most joyful, happy, satisfying moments possible. We sincerely hope that this music touches you as deeply as it has touched us.
This album is dedicated to Miles Davis for always maintaining his own point of view!
“What a pleasure it is to have such a marvellous reissue made available. This 1978 recording received acclaim when first released as a vinyl LP on the Jazz Hounds label, and it has now been remastered to a very high standard for CD under the supervision of Fresh Sound boss Jordi Pujol.
The playing is imaginative and eloquent. Shew’s trumpet playing is probably best known through his work with a host of big bands, among them those of Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman and Bill Holman. I last heard him – still playing very well indeed – as featured soloist with the Serbian Big Band RTS at the Belgrade Jazz Festival. But it was also a real privilege to sit in on a workshop led by Bobby a few years earlier at the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival – I’m not a trumpet player, but the insights he provided were remarkable.
While his technical precision led him to be in great demand as a big band lead player, he was also keen to develop his soloing skills, and this led him to link up regularly with the expressive Los Angeles-based pianist Bill Mays. And Telepathy, with Shew mostly on flugelhorn, shows what extraordinary rapport they developed.
The title track comes in Parts One and Two, both very different, and in fact freely improvised, though well-rooted in conventional harmony, spontaneously explored here. All the other tracks are standard or pop songs, with highlights including the opening track It Might As Well Be Spring, plus Poor Butterfly, Yesterdays and You’ve Changed. Shew and Mays display tremendous musical empathy, and their interplay is a joy to hear. Two masters at work – you can clearly sense that their priority was to listen to each other, and react at lightning speed. It’s worth noting that the original production must have been superbly recorded to sound this good decades later.”
John Watson (March 6, 2020)
"The magic telepathy between Bobby Shew and Bill Mays is experienced as one listens to these two sensitive artists exchange thoughts, functioning as open channels for the music to come through each of them spontaneously. Nothing written down… simply two gifted artists performing as one!!!
I thank them deeply for giving to all of us this delightful musical treat and rewarding spiritual experience. May there be many more of these same experiences in the future."
"Il y a des différences de statut entre les pays. Des artistes méconnus chez nous, sont ou ont été populaires et/ou reconnus par le métier aux Etats-Unis dans les styles divers, comme Al Hirt (dixielander virtuose de La Nouvelle-Orléans), Doc Severinsen (virtuose, sorte de prolongement d'Harry James) et Bobby Shew (hard bopper virtuose). Shew, né en 1941, est pourtant venu à Antibes en 1965 au sein du big band de Woody Herman qui y fit sensation (aux côtés des légendaires Bill Chase, Don Rader et Dusko Gojkovic). Il avait la particularité d'être un bon premier trompette de section et aussi un excellent soliste, disciple avoué de Blue Mitchell (mais c'est à Miles Davis qu'il a dédié le présent album). Voici donc Bobby Shew dans le délicat exercice du duo trompette et piano. L'histoire est pleine de ces duos de Louis Armstrong/Earl Hines à Nicolas Gardel/Rémi Panossian. Ceux qui aiment celui de Stéphane Belmondo/Jacky Terrason seront contents à l'écoute de cette antériorité qui remonte à 1978. L'interaction intuitive entre le souffleur et le clavier est la base de l'exercice. Il ne s'agit pas d'une trompette accompagnée par le piano, mais d'une sorte de ping-pong créatif. Cette interaction fonctionne ici parfaitement, d'où le titre justifié de l'album, Telepathy, et qui baptise aussi deux improvisations totales, sans objectif prédéfini et hors tempo.
Le programme alterne des moments de musicalité comme «It Might As Well Be Spring» (hors tempo avec bugle) et ceux plus rares qui invitent le swing («Poor Butterfly» avec trompette et sourdine harmon). Certains préféreront les interprétations avec un tempo et un feeling balancé («The Gentle Rain», «Indian Summer»). En fait, cette séance relève du hasard. Une séance standard en quintet a été annulée à cause d'une mésentente entre deux de ses membres. Pour exploiter le temps de studio réservé, Bobby Shew a eu l'idée d'expérimenter en duo avec Bill Mays. En général, une seule prise a suffi. Ce qui immortalise une spontanéité. Les amateurs de cuivres apprécieront la qualité de sonorité et de justesse du bugle lorsqu'il est joué, comme ici, par Bobby Shew. Il s'agit aussi d'une particularité dans la discographie de Bobby Shew."
—Michel Laplace © Jazz Hot 2020