Keeper of the Flame is the engaging new recording from saxophonist and composer Tim Mayer. His first release in a decade, Keeper of the Flame showcases Mayer’s top level octet as they take on a diverse and exciting repertoire of original music, newly arranged standards, and tributes to some of Mayer’s heroes, keepers of the flame of past generations.
An old spirit in a young man’s body, Boston-based tenor ace Tim Mayer comes out swinging hard like his idols Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt on energetic numbers like trombonist Michael Dease’s “For Miles” and his own pyrotechnic “Who Knew?,” the latter featuring some bristling unisons with guest guitarist Mark Whitfield. Veteran pianist George Cables is part of the core quartet along with bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Willie Jones III. Together they fall into an easygoing vibe on Kenny Dorham’s “Escapade” and the lush ballad “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” which finds Mayer dipping deep into his Dex bag. The group also tackles such challenging numbers as Charles Tolliver’s “Emperor March,” Fats Navarro’s “Dance of the Infidels,” Lee Morgan’s waltz-time “Blue Lace,” Monk’s chops-busting “Work” and Steve Turre’s hard-boppish “Fire & Ice,” all executed with rare precision and consummate professionalism.
Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times Nov.2011