Live at the Plush Room

Recorded Live at the Plush Room,
San Francisco, September 29th, 2003

Pismo Records 2003
CD 101

Live at the Plush Room - Mike Greensill

  1. I've Got Just About Everything (Dorough) 4:08
  2. Love For Sale (Porter) 6:31
  3. I Should Care (Weston/Cahn/Storhdal) 3:34
  4. A Dry Guy (Greensill) 4:16
  5. Stella By Starlight (Young/Washington) 5:09
  6. I'll Never Stop Loving You (Brodzsky/Cahn) 5:26
  7. It Ain't Necessarily So (Gershwin's) 5:21
  8. Blues Noir (Greensill) 4:35
  9. A Time For Love (Mandel/Webster) 5:22
  10. Better Than Anything (Loughborough/Wheat) 4:35
  11. Wonder Why/Be My Love (Brodzsky/Cahn) 3:47
  12. I Thought About You (Van Heusen) 5:07
  13. Girl Of My Dreams (Sunny Clapp) 4:44
  14. Small Day Tomorrow (Landesman/Dorough) 5:39

Mike Greensill, Piano/Vocals

Named outstanding Jazz Pianist in 1987 and 1988 by the San Francisco Council on Entertainment, Mike Greensill has been in San Francisco residency since 1977. Well known for his role as musical director for vocalist Wesla Whitfield he is also the resident piano player on KALW’s live radio show West Coast Live. Mike has also played various San Francisco boites from Mooses and Stars to the Fairmont Hotel. Mike is a graduate of Leeds College of Music in England.

Donald ‘Duck’ Bailey, Drums

Duck has performed with all the greats - Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane, Barry Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Carmen McCrae, Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Jimmy Rowles, Harold Land, Grant Green, etc. He has recorded a combined 150 Albums on the Blue Note label as well as overseas in Europe and Japan.

John Wiitala, Acoustic Bass

John Wiitala has worked with some of the greatest names in jazz, including Joe Henderson, Junior Cook, Charlie Rouse, James Moody, Bud Shank, and Cecil Payne. He has toured with Richie Cole, Arturo Sandoval, Shorty Rogers, and Jessica Williams, and has played at jazz festivals around the world, including Monterey, North Sea, Montreux, Detriot, and JVC/Concord. His recording credits include work with Scott Hamilton, Jessica Williams, Wesla Whitfield and Mark Levine.

Recording Engineer - Phil Edwards
Sound Engineer/Lights - Brian Morse
Assistant Engineer - Brian Edwards
Producer - Mike Greensill with invaluable help from Orrin Keepnews and Wesla Whitfield

I’ve happily spent my musical career as an accompanist to many fine singers, especially Wesla Whitfield. But I’ve been cajoled into making a trio album of my own. Very scary, and made even scarier by my decision to record live!

Why a live recording session. Because some of the best musical experiences I’ve had are those gigs when, through the magic of the common language of jazz, musicians get together and just 'play some tunes.' I have to own up though, for this gig we did have 'one' rehearsal.

Of course success for such a venture depends on superb musicians, and I was lucky enough to have two of the finest on this recording. John Wiitala is the dean of San Francisco bass players, as much at home playing those solid, swinging and harmonically interesting bass-lines as he his in his role of lyrical soloist. 'Duck' Bailey is not only one of the most creative and swinging drummers I know. he’s a painter of sounds, and has played with everyone imaginable including one of my heroes, pianist Jimmy Rowles.

As for the tunes, I love the Great American Songbook, and my favorite quote by a jazz musician is Paul Desmond’s “Sometimes the best chorus I play is the melody”. Me too! So there are some great songs here, especially the ballads. The Hollywood composer, Nicholas Brodzsky, not a household name, composed three of them, 'I'll Never Stop Loving You', 'Wonder Why' and 'Be My Love'. Johnny Mandel wrote my favorite 'modern' ballad, 'A Time For Love', and 'I Should Care' by Paul Weston is a great standard.

I've included two of my own compositions. Both are blues based and feature John's soulful playing. There are a few of vocals as well, my first on record since I sang 'O For the Wings of A Dove' in London’s St. Paul's Cathedral many years ago at the age of eleven. Two are written by another of my heroes and the hippest guy I know, Bob Dorough. The waltzes 'It Ain't Necessarily So' and 'Better Than Anything' show off Duck's palette of sounds to perfection.

This is the spot where the interminable ‘thank you’s’ usually appear, and I’ll spare you most of them. But I do want to thank the audience at the Plush Room on that fateful night. Their warmth and enthusiasm almost made me forget the red light was on!

Mike Greensill

all about jazz

By Michael P. Gladstone

Live at the Plush Room
Mike Greensill Trio | Pismo

This new release from pianist Mike Greensill is exactly what the title suggests, a live appearance at San Francisco's Plush Room, and it's a pleasure to listen to. It's a throw- back to the days when diners, drinkers and jazz afficionados could just sit back and soak up a well played set by a jazz piano trio. There are no dazzling pianistic runs or any particular star turns by the group members, just a well coordinated 75 minutes of choice standards and, generally speaking, avoidance of tired examples from the Great American Songbook.

I've heard Mr. Greensill play piano many times as an accompanist for his wife, Wesla Whitfield, the San Francisco-based singer who has established herself as a premiere cabaret/jazz vocalist, and as such, Greensill has travelled the world and played some of the most prestigious concert venues as well as pricey clubs. To the best of my knowledge, this is his first recording as a leader.

Mike Greensill opens the album singing Bob Dorough's “I've Got Just About Everything” and closes with “Small Day Tomorrow” by the same composer; he also includes a third vocal interpretation of Dorough's “Better Than Anything.” To no one's surprise, Greensill feels an affinity towards Dorough, the vocalist, and his three efforts are delivered in the same cool manner. It's not imitative but simply a statement that this is how the songs should be sung. The set list visits the works of Nicholas Brodzsky for three tunes, and I especially liked the probing ballad “I'll Never Stop Loving You” and ”Wonder Why.” The Young and Washington classic “Stella by Starlight” starts life as a ruminative ballad and then switches to a finger-popping midtempo pace. Greensill contributes two originals: the ballad “A Dry Guy,” featuring an introspective solo by bassist John Wiitala; and a bluesy take on “Blues Noir,” which also gives the bassist stretching room.

Greensill is quite obviously a melody player, and the attention he lavishes on these songs makes it seem as if the head was just as important as the solo, instead of dashing through the respective melodies. Donald Bailey is the same drummer who you heard with Jimmy Smith during his best period (1956-64) and does an excellent job of being a subtle accompanist as well as providing the kick when necessary. It seems like this group has been intact and working together for some time, and its music is deserving of wider recognition.

San Francisco Chronicle

February 14th, 2004

Among San Francisco's many musical blessings, count the sensitivity, responsive wit and inventive bounty of jazz pianist Mike Greensill. The accompanist-husband of local cabaret stalwart Wesla Whitfield, Greensill is emerging as an estimable force in his own right, with his Mike Greensill Trio (drummer Donald Bailey and bassist John Wiitala). This "Live at the Plush Room" recording dresses up tunes by Gershwin, Porter, Sunny Clapp and others with casual elegance. Melodic variations, elastic rhythms, solo spinouts and sly harmonies all serve the source. "Love for Sale" gets a slow, insouciant vamp. "I'll Never Stop Loving You" floats by in a pillowy cloud. The staccato pulse in "It Ain't Necessarily So" gives that Gershwin standard a refreshing petulance. Greensill adds a few numbers of his own, and also sings on several cuts -- in a cheery croak that knows no imitators. --

Steven Winn

Once in a While
By Bruce Bellingham
San Francisco Examiner Staff Writer

Mike Greensill is another reason to love this town. He and Wesla Whitfield splash beauty all over the landscape. ... The great sultry jazz singer, Lisa Baney, says, “Mike Greensill is my hero. He is so supportive of singers ... He is the greatest..."

I got back from Dallas the other morning ... put on Mike Greensill's new album, "Live At The Plush Room" ... and heard that more than supportive version of Sammy Cahn's and Nicholas Brodsky's "I’ll Never Stop Loving You."

Gosh, I was grateful to be home.............