Gary Motley, piano (all tracks)
Veronica Tate, vocal (tracks 4,8)
Teodross Avery, saxophone (tracks 3,4)
Billy Thornton, bass (all tracks except 4,6,8)
Emrah Kotan, drums (all tracks except 4,6,8)
~percussion (tracks 1, 3,4,5)
Craig shaw, bass (tracks 4,6)
Terreon Gully, drums (tracks 4,6)
Recorded and edited by Brian Adams
Vocals (tracks 4,8) recorded by GaryMotley and Veronica Tate
Mixed by Ken Gregory
Mastered by Trammell Starks
Executive Producer, James Johnson
Produced and distributed by G-Stream Media
by Scott Yanow
Gary Motley is a very individual jazz pianist who stretches the modern mainstream. His chord voicings are harmonically advanced and personal, and he is also an excellent songwriter. While he is often heard as a bandleader both in concert and on record dates, Motley has also contributed important work behind the scenes including as an influential educator based in Atlanta.
The pianist’s most recent project teams him with a core trio that also includes bassist Billy Thornton and drummer Emrah Kotan. Kotan, who switches to percussion on a few numbers, often infuses the music with Middle Eastern and Brazilian textures. Two of the other songs utilize bassist Craig Shaw and drummer Terreon Gully, and there are a pair of guest appearances apiece by singer Veronica Tate and tenor-saxophonist Teodross Avery, adding variety to the performances.
Gary Motley and his musicians perform eight of his originals, four of which were co-written by Ms. Tate. The set begins with “Passport,” a piece with a catchy bass rhythm and a sparse melody. Motley builds up his solo quite effectively. “Solstice” is a thoughtful swinger that displays how tight the trio can be. “Sea Change,” which has Teodross Avery easily fitting in with the group, is a melodic piece in 5/4 that could become a future standard if it is heard enough by other musicians.
“Abbey Lane” has a warm vocal by Veronica Tate and fine supportive playing by Avery that blends in very well with her voice. The trio is back in the spotlight on “Preachin’ To The Choir,” an energetic and soulful performance that features close interplay between the three musicians and creative piano and bass solos. “Four On the Floor” has both a funky (but not simplistic) melody and some hard swinging by the group. “Anyplace Anytime,” another possible future standard with a memorable melody, is a pretty jazz waltz that becomes quite joyful during Gary Motley’s cheerful solo. This enjoyable set concludes with Veronica Tate’s heartfelt vocal during a duet with the leader on the love song “Say It’s Not Too Late.”
No Reservation Required is a superior introduction to the musical talents of Gary Motley and it is easily recommended to modern jazz listeners.
~Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, Bebop and Jazz On Record 1917-76