Tim Mayer: Island Time

Tim Mayer plays soulful, bluesy saxophone and a bit of flute over modal smooth-jazz backgrounds he produced on keyboard and sequencer

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Nothing much happens when you’re sunning yourself on the beach in an exotic location. The waves lap, the palm fronds sway and from some distant beach-bar speaker floats music for sunning yourself on the sand by.

It could be from saxophonist Tim Mayer’s Island Time album, described in one gushing promo as “a masterpiece”. Perhaps it’s a masterpiece of music to sunbathe by. Nowt wrong with that: it sets the mood and coasts through the day towards the sunset that brings out ships with red sails.

For “Maestro” Mayer (from another PR encomium), the music is inspired by the Florida Keys. So it’s not all funtime and sunshine as one assumes it’s meant to be from the album cover illustration of an eye-shaded woman hammocked with a Kindle and a drink at her elbow. The drift of Far Away, a kind of slow boat to nowhere with its soulful sax and ponderous accompaniment suggests that the Keys can exhibit contrary moods.

But here’s the rub: all but two of the tracks were created by Mayer with a Korg Havian keyboard (the other two similarly but with more traditional home-computer programming) in a one-man operation, which saw him supplying the sax and other wind parts live, as it were. Once the listener knows that, the suspicions about those mechanical artificialities are justified.

Whether you’re ready to boogie down to the beachside disco for The Big Banana or reserve your best footwork for later with Monday Night Madness, Mayer is your man. He floats aerially above conventional plodding beats and slow harmonic shifts like a musician one would want to hear in a far less predictable and “real” setting. But as he composed all nine tracks he’s more perpetrator than victim. If this review seems heavy with irony it’s only to counterpoise the album’s lightness of effect.


Discography
Arrivals Lounge; Sun And Sea; The Big Banana; Far Away; Monday Night Madness; I Need Your Love; Duval By Night; Cold Front; Departures Lounge (36.32)
Mayer (ts, as, ss, f, kyb). Florida and Mexico, 2017-2023.
Conch Town Records 506 1028 760012