Jay Migliori – Equinox
Some things are worth waiting for & some stir curiosity as to why they were lost in the first place. While the original LP contained 7 cuts this newly reissued rollout has 3 bonus tracks. The 53-minute 10-song collection is from an unissued 1984 jazz LP commissioned by a fan. Jay’s name may be unfamiliar, but his work graced recordings by The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds), The Byrds (Younger Than Yesterday), Jan & Dean’s (Surf City LP), & sessions with Cannonball Adderley, Harry Nilsson, Frank Sinatra & Phil Spector.
In the 80s there were sets that featured wonderful sax music through the Grammy-winning Supersax recordings. As a young man, Jay played sax with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis to Frank Zappa. But even though he never became a “name” sax player like Coltrane, Parker, Roland Kirk, or even Art Pepper it doesn’t mean he’s less of a dazzling artist. Only dazzling artists get dates with famous players.
The reasons an LP like Jay’s Equinox (Drops March 3–Omnivore) never was released is lost to the record company’s archive or story. Jay’s group went to an L.A. studio where Joe Lettieri (piano/writer of 3 originals), Chiz Harris (drummer), Conte Condoli (trumpet) & Jim Crutcher (bass) laid it all down. The lead-off track is the John Coltrane-penned “Equinox” & even bonus take 3 is eloquent.
The original tapes allegedly were left under a desk. The whole story is detailed in an 8-page insert documented in Cary Baker’s generous liner notes. What’s evident is that Jay is a delicate melodic sax player who does take some wild solo excursions but manages to keep his performance convincing with ear-caressing tones, smooth transitions & balanced solos. The other musicians help each tune tell its story instrumentally with finesse. Some jazz can get a little heady, a little progressive but Jay has a meticulous style. Easy for the untrained ear to appreciate.
“Ya Know,” is more set in the grandiloquent formula of another time – possibly the 50s. It just sounds like something Jack Kerouac would listen to late on a humid night while typing his novels. Cigarette smoke in an overloaded Cinzano ashtray, bourbon glass & bottle close by a tin of Sucrets, window open, curtain blowing inches away as the warm sax notes drip through the cloth speakers. Breathy, cool & with a rhythmic spirit.
There’s a late-night atmospheric mood to several of these absorbing pieces. “Blue Jay,” isn’t commercial fare, but it isn’t heavily laden with excesses either. It’s a more intimate arrangement with sweet notes surrounded by that light touch on the keys of a George Shearing or Peter Nero. Names you seldom hear today unless you’re an aficionado. Pianist Joe Lettieri is excellent.
Produced by Patti Migliori with Grammy Award winner Cheryl Pawelski. Highlights – “Equinox,” “Four Brothers,” “Ya Know,” “Blue Jay,” “Davana” & “Ya Know,” (Take 1).
Color image from Jay’s FaceBook. CD @ https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/equinox/