Take Five: Bold New Music by Michael Mayo

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Tuesday June 08, 2021


Take Five: Bold New Music by Michael Mayo, Kurt Elling, Gerald Cleaver & Julian Lage
By: Nate Chinen

Michael Mayo, “Stolen Moments”

There’s a beautifully slippery quality to the musicality of Michael Mayo. I mean that not in genre terms, though it’s true that jazz bleeds into R&B, alternative soul and indie-pop on Bones, Mayo’s radiant full-length debut. What I’m referring to is a flexibility of vocal expression so evolved that it seems to border on liquidity; like one of his obvious heroes, Bobby McFerrin, Mayo wields a human voice in ingenious and surprising ways. Bones also finds Mayo exploring themes related to his identity, as a Black bisexual jazz artist with few readily available role models; in certain respects, it’s a Song of Himself.

The album, produced by Eli Wolf, often features Mayo at the helm of a band with Andrew Freedman on keyboards, Nick Campbell on bass and Robin Baytas on drums. But at times – as on “Stolen Moments,” which bears only a titular relation to the Oliver Nelson tune – Mayo uses overdubs and electronics to create an a cappella canvas.

“I recorded ‘Stolen Moments’ all at home right after moving into my new apartment,” he tells WBGO. “I was having a lot of emotions that were hard to put into words but that still felt important to capture somehow. This song came out of that. It’s about zooming in to those little in between moments that slip through our grasp and just existing in them.”

Bones is available now on Mack Avenue Records.

Click here to read more and to watch the video for Stolen Moments