Dave Miller Trio’s New Record Holds Its Own Against This Year’s New Jazz Compilations

Courtesy: Summit Records

The Dave Miller Trio is scheduled to release its latest record this week.  The record, The Mask-Erade Is Over, is scheduled for release Friday through Summit Records.  The 14-song covers collection sees Miller joined by bassist Andrew Higgins and drummer Bill Belasco throughout.  The songs themselves are at the center of the record’s presentation and will be discussed shortly.  The liner notes that are featured in the record’s companion booklet add their own layer of interest to the presentation and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make this covers set another positive addition to this year’s field of new jazz compilation records.  That field has its own extensive set of entries, too.

The Dave Miller Trio’s forthcoming covers compilation, The Mask-Erade Is Over is a presentation that most jazz fans will find interesting, even being a covers record.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs.  The songs are, for the most part, lesser-known “standards.”  Yes, audiences will recognize songs, such as the album’s opener, ‘Anthropology’ (made famous by Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie), and ‘Yardbird Suite’ (another Parker classic), but those two songs are, again, really the record’s only really well-known standards.  Other songs, such as Dave Brubeck’s ‘In Your Own Sweet Way,’ Bill Evans’ ‘The Opener,’ and ‘Rodgers & Hart’s ‘The Blue Room’ may be well-known within the bigger jazz community, but they are not songs that audiences expect to find on most jazz standards compilations.  By comparison, songs, such as ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco,’ ‘Autumn Leaves,’ and ‘Bewitched’ are among the most common songs that audiences will find on jazz covers records in stores.  So for Miller and company to feature songs that could be considered less covered shows an original approach for the group.  This is especially important because it helps introduce a number of “less standard” standards to audiences.  Keeping that in mind, it forms a strong foundation for the record.

Building on the foundation formed by the songs is the information about the songs in the record’s companion booklet.  Composed by jazz journalist/historian Scott Yanow, the information takes audiences through the record, offering brief but concise examinations of each arrangement.  The examination is not in precise chronological order.  Yanow examines ‘The Opener’ prior to ‘The Masquerade Is Over.’  His examination of ‘Someday I’ll Find You’ is also out of order from its placement in the record.  This is all beside the point.  What is most important here is the starting point that Yanow creates for each song.  Case in point is Yanow’s notes about the group’s cover of ‘Why Did I Choose You?’  He cites Miller as saying about the song, “I remember hearing George Shearing once introduced this song by saying that it’s a tune that is often played at a divorce court!”  If that anecdote doesn’t make this record’s audiences laugh, then nothing will.  That in itself is sure to generate enough interest to make audiences want to listen and find out what all the “fuss” is about.  On another note, Yanow’s discussion of ‘Estate’ provides a brief history about the song and an explanation of its comparison to Miller and company’s take on the song.  Understanding how the original was composed versus this version, it will encourage audiences to hear the original for themselves and compare it to this take.  For some audiences, it might mean hearing said song for the first time, which could be the start of a bigger journey into works from Bruno Martino or even into Latin Jazz in whole.  It is yet another example of the importance of the information provided in the booklet’s liner notes.  Between that, the other information noted here and everything else featured in the liner notes, there is no doubt that the record’s liner notes are of their own importance here.  They are but one more aspect of the record that makes it worth hearing.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production featured in The Mask-Erade Is Over is important to note because of its aesthetic value to the record.  Each song featured in this record is stylistically different not only from its source material, but also from one another.  From some swinging bop to something a little lighter, to even a samba work, and points in-between, each song offers audiences something different.  That means that lots of attention needed to be paid to each work.  There is even some work here that conjures thoughts of works from the likes of Vince Guaraldi.  Miller, who produced the record and those responsible for the mixing and mastering (Gabriel Shephard and John Schimpf respectively) are to be commended for their painstaking efforts.  That is because Miller and company ensure in each song, that his work on piano is expertly balanced with the work of his fellow musicians from beginning to end.  Case in point is the presentation of ‘In Your Own Sweet Way.’  This light tune is grounded in Miller’s work on piano.  That is not to say that his cohorts did nothing here.  Higgins’ gets some time in the limelight thanks to that production, as his line really cuts through at points.  Meanwhile, ‘Belasco helps keep the mood easy as he works his brushes on the snare and keeps time on the hi-hat.  All three musicians get their own share of attention here, showing again, the result of the painstaking production efforts.  Whether in this song or others featured throughout the record, each song ensures that the slightest nuance gets its own attention thanks to the production.  The end result is that the album proves worth hearing for this aesthetic element just as much as for its content.  When this is taken into mind, the whole of the record proves itself another positive addition to this year’s field of new jazz covers compilation records.

The Dave Miller Trio’s new covers set, The Mask-Erade Is Over is a presentation that holds its own against this year’s field of new jazz covers records.  That is proven in part through its featured songs. The songs are standards in their own right.  At the same time though, the songs are also not works that audiences will typically see in those covers records that make their way to the likes of Target and Walmart (since they are the only retailers left in America who actually carry music in stores anymore).  That in itself is a bonus for the record and a sure way to attract audiences.  The liner notes that accompany the record add their own appeal.  That is because of the brief but concise background information that they provide on each song.  That background serves as a good starting point because it helps audiences decide if they want to take in the record in linear fashion or if they want to hear certain songs before others.  So again, it really is its own positive.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  That is because it ensures the best of each song comes out.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record a positive addition to this year’s field of new jazz covers records. 

The Mask-Erade Is Over is scheduled for release Friday through Summit Records.  More information on this and other titles from Summit Records is available at: 

Website: https://summitrecords.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SummitRecords

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SummitRecords

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