Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday mornings with George...

Sunday mornings, with few exceptions, are the time I dig out a George Mesterhazy CD and relish the depth and breadth of his talent as I savor the day’s first cup of java and catch up on email or peruse the morning paper. It’s been that way for the better part of the past year. I find it a terrific balm that soothes the loss of this close friend and masterful musician. He died in his sleep on April 12, 2012, a few days after his 59th birthday.

I have many such CDs to choose from: George’s wonderful collaborations with Shirley Horn and Rebecca Parris, or more recently, Cat Conner, Lisa Lindsley, Gina Roché and Paula West, or, moving to the rock sphere, his work as a sideman (piano, B-3, Fender Rhodes and accordion) on Bob Lowery’s Mellencamp-esque 2000 CD Yellow Light.  

The one that draws me in most Sunday mornings is George’s trio session, One For My Baby, which he recorded in September 1999 at Peter Kontrimas’ Westwood MA studio with drummer Matt Gordy and bassist John Lockwood. It is exquisite. Each listening reveals new aspects in his playing and his personalization of nine jazz standards.
Two-thirds of the session features the trio, with George going solo on the other three tracks. The CD was a small pressing that never made it to the general marketplace or reviewers’ in-baskets. That’s a shame, because it stands the test of time like few others. A posthumous release would be a fine thing for George’s countless fans and the many, many friends who were blessed to know the man, his warmth, his humor, his solid friendship. 

One interesting note, the U.K.’s Gearbox Records in late May will release a four-song EP by Mark Murphy called A Beautiful Friendship: Remembering Shirley Horn, with pianist Alex Minasian, bassist Curtis Lundy, Shirley's drummer Steve Williams and Till Brönner on trumpet. The project is dedicated to both Shirley Horn and George Mesterhazy. Produced by Jean-Pierre Leduc, it was recorded last November at The Merion Inn in Cape May NJ.  

George must have been smiling down on this session, for he was Murphy’s accompanist and musical director until his shocking passing, and was Horn’s accompanist in her final years. And it was recorded in the venue where George was featured nights he wasn’t on the road.  

The new Murphy recording will be available in a limited-edition vinyl-only format (500 copies) and as a download. Details will be at the Gearbox website.


  1. Hi George, just to let you know that the Mark Murphy EP was cut yesterday at our all analogue mastering studio and will now be released week commencing 27 May. Many thanks for writing about the session so well, it's really appreciated. Just one more thing - it's a vinyl only release.

  2. know I meant to say Hi Ken!