WILLIE MYETTE TRIO . . .This Is Jazz (JazzKids Records)
Review by: Jack Bowers (www.allaboutjazz.com)
While the title of this new release is accurate enough in its way, Rhode Island based pianist Willie Myette is far too self-effacing. He could have more properly called it . . .This Is Jazz (The Way It Was Meant to Be Played by a Trio). Comparisons? Well, even though Myette doesn't sound much like Ahmad Jamal, I am reminded when listening to this tight-knit and near-telepathic group of Jamal's classic trio with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernell Fournier. I've a hunch these guys have worked together before. If they haven't, they certainly are quick studies. The interplay among them is as tidy and secure as one could hope for from any trio. Myette is an assertive modernist with an awesome right hand who doesn't back down when the keyboard needs a good spanking, but he can be exceedingly warm and gentle too, as on the ballads "Blame It on My Youth," "Ella's Song" (written for his daughter)or Rodgers and Hart's poignant "Little Girl Blue." Myette breezes through the up tempo numbers ("If I Should Lose You," "Autumn Leaves," "The Night We Called It a Day") with ease, as do Carlsen and Menna. As one can appreciate from the songs already mentioned, Myette's choice of "not-so-standard standards," as he refers to them, is exemplary. Although I find it hard to listen to "Be My Love" without thinking of Mario Lanza, Myette deflects such deeply ingrained memories by playing it as a brisk samba. This brings us to the closing "Hymn to Freedom," an Oscar Peterson composition that includes a charming guest appearance by the JazzKids children's choir. The JazzKids teaching program is Myette's idea, and since launching it he has introduced to audiences in his area Jazz performers as young as six years of age. If this disc helps move that program forward, so much the better. But Myette's swashbuckling trio needs no inducement beyond the music to recommend it; its expertise alone should be convincing enough for any well-tuned ears.
Review by: Matthew S. Robinson (Associate Writer) 2001-05-06. http://www.musicdish.com
Especially in this world of fragmented formats such as the abominable "Smooth Jazz," Berklee-trained performer and instructor Willie Myette has chosen an ambitious and even hubric title for his debut album. Though he may not cover all the Bases and though he may occassionally seem as if his sense of "Jazz" as an entire genre may be gone with Gershwin, Myette mixes standard compositions with more contemporary insights for a collection which, if not encyclopedic, is at least a good primer for his students and listeners. From old school standards such as a heart-tugging take on Rogers and Hart's "Little Girl Blue," a softly swinging solo-led setup of Levant and Heyman's 'Blame It On My Youth" and a peppy pop through Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves" to newer pieces like Oscar Peterson's "Hymn To Freedom" (made all the younger with the help of a Guiraldi-esque children's choir), Myette mixes flavors of old and new in a bold attempt at introducing and encapsulating as much of Jazz as possible into one nine-track album. Throwing in one original for good measure ("Ella's Song," a tribute to his daughter, if not also the first lady of Jazz), Myette deals with many of the great composers and constructs of Jazz. However, in limiting himself to nine songs and a trio, Myette also misses many of the elements which have made Jazz the broad, nearly indefinable and certainly uncapturable musical mystery it has become. Even so, as an instructor of the American idiom, Myette appears well poised to build on his own work through his students and to sustain and feed the heart and soul which make Jazz unique and special.
Review by: Judith Schlesinger. http://www.52ndstreetjazz.com
Rating: * * * (3 out of 5 stars)
First impression: a debut CD called "...this is jazz" seems a bit, well, grandiose. But after you learn that Myette is a dedicated educator whose program brings jazz to kids as young as six, the statement seems more instructive than pretentious. Yes, this is jazz, kids: tasty trio jazz, played with talent and spirit. This self-produced CD opens with a burner: If I Should Lose You, a tune Myette learned from one of his teachers, Fred Hersch (although it's hard to trace the Herschian influence in his playing, apart from the honesty of his approach). Drummer Jack Menna keeps things popping and gets to stretch out with an extended solo; Carlsen's first turn comes in the swirl of Autumn Leaves, and there is generous sharing and showcasing throughout. Myette is a clean, spare pianist, who delivers a pleasing collection of what he calls "not-so-standard standards," in a good mix of ballads and swingers. Other highlights include Ella's Song (written for his daughter), a pretty waltz with nice brushwork by Menna, and The Night We Called It A Day, which hits the ground running and never looks back. Myette sifts the schmaltz (i.e., the Lanza) out of Be My Love by taking it in bossa tempo. The last track will disgruntle those who believe that children's choirs, no matter how adorable, should not take up four minutes of a trio album - even if billed as "a heartwarming surprise." But Myette's pride in his educational efforts is understandable.
©1998 Judith Schlesinger. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without permission.
Review by: David R. Adler, 12/8/99
This is the promising debut of Willie Myette, a straightahead player based in Providence, Rhode Island. The Berklee- and Fred Hersch-trained pianist offers up seven standards, as well as Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom" and an original waltz titled "Ella's Song" - dedicated not to the first lady of song, but to Myette's daughter. Joining Myette is the solid rhythm team of bassist Mark Carlsen and drummer Jack Menna, both of whom are at their best on an uptempo version of "The Night We Called it a Day." It's clear by the end of the first track, "If I Should Lose You," that Myette has a way with slick, tightly arranged endings. His 5/4 treatment of "Be My Love" contains the disc's most subtle and alluring moments.