“This album belongs in the collection of every jazz fan!” (Jazzfun, 10/2022)
“… grooving light-footed and confident!” (Drums & Percussion, 10/2022)
On the 14th of October 2022, German label, Mons Records, will release the new album from Guido May titled “Flow”. For those unfamiliar with Guido, he is one of Germany’s top Jazz and Funk drummers with a list of credits that include the “creme de la creme” of the international jazz world. Perhaps best known for his long term collaboration with funk icon Pee Wee Ellis, Guido sees this album as a tribute to both Pee Wee and their 25 year long musical journey.
The album contains a mix of standards, two from the pen of Pee Wee Ellis and two original compositions. When asked about the concept behind the album Guido explained “After playing improvised music for more than 30 years, I wanted to record an album that combines all of my influences on one recording, from Morden Jazz, Brazilian, Cuban, big band, funck etc….” Finding the right musicians to join May on this project was not a difficult task, “I first met Jure Pukl (Tenor saxophone) and Marko Chunchetz (piano) at an audition for a professorship. They completely understood my ideas and perfectly executed them musically. It was while we were playing that I decided to do a recording: one sound, just quartet, all styles combined.” Filling out the line up is bassist Ameen Saleem. Guido went on to say “I first met him during two European tours with great Italian piano player Antonio Faraò and was totally blown away.”
The album opens with “Love For Sale – In Seven” somewhat giving the punch line away. “Taking an old Jazz standard and put something new on it has always been a goal of mine. In this case I took Cole Porter’s classic, Love for Sale and put it into a 7/4 odd meter straight 8th arrangement.” explained Guido. Following this the group re-visit the Pee Wee Ellis classic “The Chicken”. While this song is more often associated with bassist Jaco Pastorious, the majority of people are unaware that “The Chicken” is actually a composition by Pee Wee Ellis and was the “B Side” to James Brown’s 1959 single “The Popcorn”. This version presented on this album couches the track in a New Orleans second-line feel with May laying down the feel in an extended drum intro.
The mood changes for Charles Fambrough’s “Dolores Carla Maria”. Originally appearing on Fambrough’s 1991 album “The Proper Angle”, the track is taken as a straight forward medium Bossa and features Jure Pukl who takes the melody before launching into a breathtaking solo before passing the baton to Marko Chunchetz.
Ellington’s classic “Caravan” is up next and features an infectious Cuban Funk groove. The arrangement is attributed to Pee Wee Ellis, Guido May and Adrian Mears and is based around Pee Wee’s baseline. Featuring great solo’s from Jure Pukl on Tenor Sax and Marko Chunchetz on piano this track truly sets the scene for the album.
Thelonius Monk’s “Evidence” is the next cab off the rank. Speaking of this track, Guido explained “Being a big fan of the structured playing and composing of Thelonious Monk, I choose to do an arrangement switching the time from 3 to 4/4 and back. To be honest, when I was doing this arrangement I had an early recording from Wynton Marsalis in my mind.” Moving on we have the straight eight odd meter tune “Theme For Malcolm” written by American jazz pianist and producer, Donald Brown of the Jazz Messengers fame. “We first performed this tune with Israeli trumpet player Gregory Rivkin at Black Sea Jazz Festival and I fell in love with this song …” Guido elaborated.
“Ballad for Jure” is next up and was fully improvised in the studio based on an idea from May. Harking back to that 1960’s late night jazz sound, this meandering melodic track is full of interesting harmonic movement for those wishing to dig deep.
Following is a track titled “Din Don Dan”. This track first appeared on the Pee Wee Ellis’ project “Still Black, Still Proud – An African tribute to James Brown”. Guido remembers “… we met at a studio near London to work on ideas.” This track features an Afro 21/8 groove with a spectacular piano solo by Chunchetz. Of particular note is the way he drives Montuno based counter rhythms right through the basic feel with both May and bassist Ameen Saleem consolidating this in rhythm section. Guido, also has the room to stretch out on this track with an extended drum solo.
Closing out the set is “Let Go” as Fast, Modern jazz full of energy” and I think this covers it perfectly. Both May and bassist Ameen Saleem provide a rock solid base for both saxophonist Jure Pukl and Marko Chunchetz on piano to stretch out with extended solo’s.
Often bands put together for studio dates just miss that special something that only years of touring can bring, however, this is definitely not the case here. Guido May has put together an amazing group of players that, in his own words, “…completely understood my ideas.” What’s more outstanding is that the album was recorded in eight hours and mixed in two. This album is one that should be in the collection of any jazz fan.