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Tim Mayer! Jazz woodwind specialist & educator from Boston, Massachusetts

October 7, 2010

5LMN2 – Los Cinco Elementos

Tim Mayer, saxophones
Kevin Harris, piano
Gabo Lugo, conguero

Keala Kaumeheiwa, bass

David Rivera, drums

This group is a vehicle for exploring the deeper areas of the traditions of Jazz and Afro-Cuban music.

At one end of the tree, Conguero Gregorio Bento’s roots in Cuban rumba extend to Santeria and Bat√°, which are the traditions brought from Africa to Cuba, and are the fuel for the spiritual fire present in the ceremonies held by practitioners dressed all in white. The rhythms drive the dancers to enter a trance, which invites the Orishas, or Saints, to posess the body of the dancer.

On the other end, my roots as a saxophonist extend to the point where spirit meets music. One of the seminal figures in this pursuit was John Coltrane, who extended the boundaries of Jazz to include African Middle Eastern and Asian spirituality and tonality.

The repertoire of this group is populated by the seldom heard and even more seldom recreated compositions of Monk, Coltrane, and others, including “Work,” “Brilliant Corners,” “Friday the 13th,” by Monk; and “Lonnie’s Lament,” “A Love Supreme” (the complete 4 movement suite) by Coltrane.

Press for 5LMN2

From “Three Nights” by Jon Garelick/Boston Phoenix:

At Ryles on Saturday July 7, saxophonist Tim Mayer fronted 5LMN2, an outfit that had its inception at Wally’s in 1993 and has been around in one form or another ever since. The 5LMN2 agenda has been Afro-Latin jazz or standard jazz played in Latin arrangements. (The name, if you read it in Spanish, comes out as the five elements.) In the middle set of three at Ryles, the band mixed it up with Cedar Walton’s √Ę‚ā¨ŇďBolivia, Monk’s Evidence, Joe Henderson’s Serenity and Inner Urge,¬Ě and Puerto Rican composer Pedro Flores’s standard Obsesi√≥n.

The Monk expert Steve Lacy once described all of Monk’s tunes as dances, so it was no surprise to see the band make the most of the displaced accents of Evidence¬Ě with the 3-2 clave beat. Pianist Marcello Casagrandi emphasized rhythmic chording throughout the set, and he was so inventive in his change-ups that for a brief moment in hisBolivia¬Ě solo he even threw off the otherwise imperturbable rhythm team of drummer Pablo Pe√Īa and conguero Paolo Stagnaro (son of Boston bassist Oscar). In the first couple of tunes, the details of Mayer’s tenor playing got buried in the heavy rhythmic mix (Fernando Huergo played electric bass), so it was good to hear him slice through on alto in Evidence.¬Ě But he really came to the fore on Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge,¬Ě clapping off the clave rhythm until piano came in with a repeating staccato cross-rhythm, then bass, then percussion, then finally tenor. Casagrandi built up to a staccato climax in his solo and then Mayer entered, slower and with lighter percussion underneath him, mixing up his phrasing, alternating short-phrased groupings and arpeggiated runs, reveling in a fat lower register that hadn’t been evident in the first couple of tunes, taking his time. It was beautiful. He was equally relaxed on the slow cha-cha-cha of Obsesi√≥n¬Ě and on Serenity,¬Ě which was a light rumba. There was plenty of abstraction in all of these, and plenty of rhythmic hurly-burly, but at their best, the band (who play Wally’s every Thursday night) reminded you why Afro-Latin jazz is so popular: they’re all dances, and the dance beat will draw you in no matter how far out the band take everything else.

Read Mr. Garelick’s entire article at The Phoenix website.

Download as a PDF: Jon Garelick – Boston Phoenix Article

August 8, 2010

Sol Y Canto

Back in 1997, fresh out of Berklee, I was always looking for better contacts, better gigs, trying to improve myself as a musician, and to maintain an upward trajectory careerwise. ¬†Renato Thoms, who at the time was the conguero and bandleader at Wally’s on Thursdays, referred me to Sol Y Canto, a ¬†Latin group with a focus on folkloric forms, which draws from a variety of styles from just about every tradition in Latin America. ¬†Led by Brian and Rosi Amador, a Cambridge-based couple who have been sharing the stage since about 1984, Sol Y Canto presents a tasteful selection of standards from these many cultures, as well as original compositions which embody those styles and deal with many themes of social conscience. ¬†They have produced a bilingual children’s album, titled “El Doble de Amigos-Twice As Many Friends.” I hasten to add that I appear on this CD.

I have performed sporadically with the band since 1997, and back in 2000, I referred them to a good friend of mine as a sub, Bernardo Monk, a talented and accomplished alto saxophonist from Argentina.  It ended up that Bernardo was offered the gig, which helped to support him during his time here in Boston.  He moved back to Buenos Aires back in November, thus reviving my relationship with the band, which also features some very talented musicians, good friends of mine for many years: Renato Thoms, pianist Nando Michelin, and bassist Jorge Roeder.

Lately, the band has been lining up tour dates for a new work called “Sabor Y Memoria.” ¬†Having premiered in Flint, MI, in Feb. ’10, “Sabor Y Memoria” is a musical offering in 7 courses, as Brian and Rosi often say when they talk about the show. ¬†With the addition of a string quartet, it also represents Brian’s most ambitious endeavor in composition and orchestration to date. ¬†Indeed, it does not fail to impress. ¬†Drawing from the usual wide variety of rhythms from all over Latin America, and with rich layered strings adorning the rest of the band, the work deals with the themes of food, cooking, hunger, culture, as viewed through Latin culture. ¬†Watch for upcoming performances in your area!

June 16, 2010


Waitiki 7, the septet of top-shelf musicians from a variety of backgrounds and styles led by bassist Randy Wong, is dedicated to revisiting the creative process that inspired composers and performers of the 50’s-70’s to create a genre of music which was comprised of¬†three musical roots, the Hawaiian/Polynesian, Latin, and Jazz. ¬†Exotica is music devoted to evoking images and telling stories. Currently, Exotica and Tiki culture are seeing a resurgence, which is enabling WAITIKI to grow as a group and a phenomenon.
From Wikipedia:

“Exotica is a musical genre, named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title, popular during the late 1950s to mid 1960s typically with the suburban set who came of age during World War II. The musical colloquialism exotica means tropical ersatz: the non-native, pseudo experience of Oceania (Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Southeast Asia, and especially Hawaii). While the South Seas forms the core region, exotica reflects the “musical impressions” of every place from standard travel destinations to the mythical “shangri-las” dreamed by armchair safari-ers.”

Randy Wong contributes the majority of compositions, pianist Zaccai Curtis brings a deep understanding of both the Jazz and Latin traditions, as well as contributing compositions. ¬†Violinist Helen Liu, a brilliant musician active on the orchestral and chamber circuits between Boston and New York, enables the group’s sound to access the classical/orchestral side of Exotica. ¬†Drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr., who co-founded the band in 2003 with Randy, brings a wealth of talent and experience in Jazz, Hawaiian, and Latin music not only to the drum set, but vibraphone and ukelele. ¬†He is very active in Los Angeles, where he lives. ¬†Vibraphonist Jim Benoit, currently enrolled full-time at Berklee College of Music, is making waves on the Jazz scene, and the orchestral scene as well. ¬†Percussionist Lopaka Colon, based in Honolulu, HI, brings the true Exotica sound to life with his mastery of rhythm and texture, and is a master of producing bird calls using his voice, which is integral to the genre of Exotica.

Besides the evocative and exotic sounds of the music, which arises from the broad palette of rhythmic and melodic possibilities presented by drawing from each of the three main roots and combining them to get unique grooves and colors, one of the most important qualities of Exotica which likely contributed to its huge success was the conciseness of the melodies and their economy of notes to expression.  Les Baxter, Ken Darby, Martin Denny, and Robert Drasnin, all influential composers in the Exotica style, had backgrounds in orchestration and film scoring, besides being jazz musicians.  As a result of their training, their compositions were designed to evoke the intended mood to maximum effect with conciseness and precision, supported by tasteful orchestration and percussion.

I see Jazz music today losing its audience and find it deeply troubling. ¬†The old masters are leaving us, and among many younger players, there is a drive to play new things, to challenge themselves and each other rhythmically, harmonically, and melodically. ¬†There is some really exciting music being produced these days. ¬†Sadly, though, the tastes of the public are going in the other direction. ¬†Over the last 30 years, as school budgets experience downward pressure, arts education has been whittled down to next to nothing. ¬†Technology has become a substitute for talent in the fields of recording and performance. ¬†Labels have cut artist development budgets, as sales have declined. ¬†Image and marketing have become the new currency success is dealt in, while substance has taken a back seat. ¬†In short, the daunting task of dedicating one’s life to being a creative musician is made more and more difficult by the scarcity of the ever-shrinking audience.

Another aspect of Exotica which I find most appealing is that it is more than just a musical style.  It was initially part of a whole subculture, Polynesian Pop, which encompassed visual and plastic arts, namely photography, illustration, cinema, clothing and interior design; cuisine, and mixology.  Exotica was the sonic component to this amalgam of Polynesian art with mid-century kitsch.  It was everywhere in its heyday.  Movie soundtracks by Exotica composers were common.  Exotica was always heard as background music in the Hawaiian/Polynesian restaurants, which were ubiquitous all over the country.  Just about every town had one, and some of them rose to the level of being elaborate temples of the culture, featuring the food, the cocktails, elaborate interior decor, and some even had Hawaiian floor shows.

Waitiki 7 incorporates all these elements and celebrates the connection to this mid-century subculture, as evidenced by the artwork on our CD’s, and by the fact that we have an official drink menu which features drinks by well-known and published mixologist/historians such as Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and Brother Cleve. ¬†A couple of these drink recipes will appear in the booklet accompanying our next release, “Adventures In Paradise,” along with a couple of appetizer recipes.

Having made the rounds in just about every Tiki festival on the calendar last year, including the W√§ssermusik Festival in Berlin and the Retro Cocktail Hour’s 500th broadcast in Lawrence, KS, Waitiki 7 is poised to reintroduce Exotica to the mainstream via the Jazz and World Music markets.

As an update, Waitiki has released the second of two CD’s as the fruit of a two-day recording session back in Feb. ’09. ¬†In those two days, which were of course long and focused, 23 complete tunes were recorded, with fixes and overdubs. ¬†The first CD, “Adventures In Paradise,” as mentioned above, was released to critical acclaim, and the band did a small tour which included venues in NYC, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Jersey City, and of course began at Ohana, THE weekend-long Tiki event for the Northeast. ¬†This next release, “New Sounds of Exotica,” features an original painting by Sam Gambino for the cover, more drink recipes, and, of course, some great Exotica.

May 7, 2009

Rusty Scott Quartet & Organ Group


One of Boston’s leading bearers of the standard of bebop and straight-ahead jazz.

Rusty Scott, piano
Tim Mayer, saxophone
Keala Kaumehiewa, bass
Luther Grey, drums

Founded in 1995, the Rusty Scott Quartet presents standards, jazz and bebop classics, and original compositions and arrangements with impeccable musicianship and style. Drawing on the legacies left by Bud Powell, Red Garland,Cedar Walton, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanangan, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin, Ron Carter, and many others, this group has distilled the values and standards held by each.

Synthesizing a style characterized by solid swinging groove, blazing uptempos, rich harmonies that flow, twist and turn, they are able to create improvisations filled with lyricism and humor that unearth unexpected truths and characters that inhabit the depths of each tune.

External website: RustyJazz.com

* * *

The Rusty Scott Organ Group

Rusty Scott, organ
Tim Mayer, alto & tenor saxophones
Mike Mele, guitar
Dave Brophy, drums


The result of an impulse buy inspired by seeing Jimmy Smith in person, this group features the sounds of the Hammond B-3 organ, guitar, saxophone, and drums.

The 60’s saw an explosion of popularity and expasion of the organ in jazz, as the Hammond B-3, infinitely more portable than pipe organs, and even pianos, was brought into jazz clubs everywhere. Many clubs replaced their pianos with B-3’s, which were cheaper to maintain and obviated the need to hire a bassist, as the organist takes that role with the left hand and left foot. ¬†Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Groove Holmes, Brother Jack McDuff, are some of the artists who have contributed to the legacy of the instrument and set the bar for sound and style, which is followed by the Rusty Scott Organ Group.

My experiences living in Los Angeles in the mid-80’s performing at local clubs such as Vina’s Jazz Corner, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, the Friendly Room, and the Wich Stand, all of which had B-3’s and featured highly capable organists at the helm, introduced me to that style, and instilled in me the joys of ¬†the sound. ¬†Rusty has devoted a lot of time and careful study to the language and technique of the organ, and accurately captures the sound and character of that period, while contributing his own voice to the sound, and the new CD, The Thrill Is Gone, features some original compositions by Rusty and myself.


External website: Rusty Scott Organ Group on Myspace

April 21, 2009

Cape Verdean Projects

Cape Verde is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and is located 120 miles off the coast of Senegal, making it also the Westernmost of the African countries. Colonized by Portugal in the 12th century, Cape Verde has both influenced Portuguese music, and been influenced by it. When most people think of African music, dense polyrhythmic drumming and simple chants come to mind. In contradiction to that stereotype, the music of Cape Verde is melodic, melancholy, and harmonically rich. Each of the seven populated islands has its own set of distinct rhythms and styles, although some have become popular enough among the broader Cape Verdean Communityand beyond to become recognized around the world as the typical style. Morna and Coladera are the most popular styles. Morna’s best known voice is Cesaria Evora, and Coladera’s is Bana.

My involvement with Cape Verdean music goes back to one day in October of 1995. I was in my fourth semester at Berklee. The phone rang, and the man on the other end said, “Hi, my name is Ramiro Mendes, and I’m looking for a sax player to go to Angola for two weeks at the end of the month. Can you make it?” I asked how long I had to think about it, and he said, “How about five minutes?” I arranged for a leave of absence from Berklee for those two weeks, and began rehearsing with the band, The Mendes Brothers. As it turns out, Ramiro was one of the best-known producers and composers in the music, with many hit songs and recordings under his belt. My association with the Mendes Brothers would lead to my participation in many recordings, including three with The Mendes Brothers, three with Bana, and many many more with other well-known artists such as Maria de Barros, Bius, Jozinho, Belinda, and subsequent tours to Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, and Guinea Bissau in addition to local performances.

January 15, 2008

Vote for WAITIKI in the Hawai’i Music Awards!

2008 Hawaii Music Awards Nomination: Please Vote!

Hawaii Music Awards

WAITIKI’s second album, Rendezvous in Okonkuluku, has been nominated for an award in the Exotica category.

We won last year and you can help us win this year too! You can vote multiple times by voting from separate email accounts, but each email address you own can only be used once per day. You do not have to vote for all of the other categories of music unless you want to.

November 3, 2007

Eguie Castrillo & His Orchestra

MAMBO IS BACK! Puerto Rican percussionist Eguie Castrillo & His Orchestra, reclaim the PALLADIUM TRADITION with this intense 20 piece Orchestra, full of energy and the excitement of Mambo and Cha-Cha-Cha while also paying homage to the original Mambo Kings: Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez and Machito.

Having spent his formative years in a supporting role performing with many great artists in Latin Jazz, most recently Arturo Sandoval, with whom he toured for 7 years, Eguie is now based in Boston, teaching in the percussion department at Berklee, and devotes his artistic energy to his big band, which features the music of Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Machito, as well as arrangements by members of the band who have substantial arranging credits. Greg Hopkins and Humberto Ramirez are among the top contributors of charts.

The band has performed to ecstatic crowds in the Berklee Performance Center, in Boston, the Heineken Jazz Festival and Jazz Festival of Carolina in Puerto Rico. The show features singers, dancers, a huge percussion section, piano, bass, and 12 horns. Eguie also leads a smaller Latin Jazz group, which employs 3 horns, piano, bass, and 3 percussion. The sound of this group, which plays Latin and Jazz standards as well as some orignal compositions, is what Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers might have sounded like if Art had grown up in Puerto Rico.

Electronic Press Kit (EPK)

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