Pianist to entertain at jazz series

By The Mercury

TOPEKA — The fourth concert in the Topeka Jazz Workshop’s 45th season of jazz will feature pianist, composer, arranger Bill Mays, backed by Todd Strait on drums and Bob Bowman on bass. 

The concert will be Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Downtown Ramada.  Admission is by season membership only.  Cost of a season membership is $100 per adult ($50 for students under 21), which will provide admission to six concerts in the period November 10 through April 2014.  Season memberships may be purchased at the door this Sunday by cash, check, or major charge card.

Local jazz fans may remember Mays from the 2004 Topeka Jazz Festival.  A native Californian, he began his jazz career in the L.A. area in the 1960s and rapidly became a studio musician and a first-call accompanist for singers, including Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Al Jarreau and Frank Sinatra. 

Over time, Mays managed to play with virtually all the well-known West Coast jazz artists, including Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Art Pepper, the Kenton Jr. Neophonic Orchestra, Bobby Shew, Alan Broadbent, Ernie Watts and many others. 

He credits Mike Wofford as being a big influence on him, and his very first exposure to jazz was Earl “Fatha” Hines. 

In 1984, Mays moved to the East Coast and continued playing with jazz greats like Bob Brookmeyer, Mark Murphy,Gerry Mulligan, Ron Carter, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, the Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Ed Bickert.

Currently, Mays tours internationally and records in many configurations:  a duo with trumpeter Marvin Stamm; the Inventions Trio; solo piano; his own trio featuring Matt Wilson and Martin Wind; a duo with Bud Shank; and a sextet.  Two days after the Topeka engagement, he flies to China for a first time solo tour there.

For more information about the TJW Inc. series, contact its website at or Executive Director Marcene Grimes at or 785-379-5169.

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