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Mays Trio has great chemistry

BILL MAYS TRIO; "Live at Jazz Standard" (Palmetto)*** 1/2

Just because jazz is straight-ahead doesn't mean it's all been said and done. Bill Mays' newest album, "Bill Mays Trio: Live At Jazz Standard," finds plenty of nooks and crannies where the three musicians' creativity flourishes.

Drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Martin Wind join Mays on a foray through a mix of standards (such as "Smile" and "Darn that Dream") and Mays originals.

One of the greatest strengths of this album is the chemistry between the three performers. The feel between them is so natural, and there's a lot of freedom and spontaneity in their musical exchanges. Mays gives a lot of time to Wind, especially, including lead time, where he bows the melody on several ballads.

Most of their creative expression finds its outlet in the rapport between them, but there are also some thinking-outside-the-box maneuvers, such as strumming the piano strings rather than playing the piano keys in "Darn that Dream."

Mays' wide musical background is evident in the styles, colors, and flavors he gives to the music, as in the colorful "Music House."

Overall, this is a strong album — smart, yet very approachable, and with an over-arching feel-good flavor.