Kevin Hays’s New Day marks the celebrated pianist and composer’s return to the studio and first release as bandleader in over four years. The hiatus has provided Hays ample time to further his own craft of songwriting and performing, his main vehicle being his New Day Trio, featuring bassist Rob Jost and drummer Greg Joseph, musicians well versed in rock and folk as well as the jazz tradition.
Modern Music, the collaborative recording between longtime colleagues and jazz pianists Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays, and composer and arranger Patrick Zimmerli (a mutual friend of both) is startling for its deep reliance on modern classical technique and arrangements. Certainly, Mehldau is known for dabbling in all sorts of music, from pop to classical on his recordings and in live performance. Hays, too, has branched out in recent years, from his signature, intelligent, hard swinging post-bop approach to include compositions with modern classical touches, such as those found on Piano Works, Vol. III. Zimmerli, who wrote the charts for this session, played saxophone in his younger years.
Modern Music, a collaboration between pianists Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli is out this week. The album features pieces written by each of the three musicians as well as works by Reich, Coleman, and Glass, performed by the two pianists in arrangements by Zimmerli. The New York Times says the pianists bring "a high sheen to some choice material." The Financial Times gives the album a perfect five stars.