"A+" CD Rating
"The result is a collection of seven new songs by the band members and four covers that show off both their remarkable virtuosity and the kind of empathetic interplay that only comes with time. Sprague's playing is always pleasant and this new CD shows a side to his playing we do not always get to hear. The new songs are gorgeous and complex enough to challenge the musicians and also hold the listener's interest."
North County Times
Road Work Ahead is a jazz group featuring Peter Sprague on guitar, New York City pianist Bill Mays, Bob Magnusson on bass, and Jim Plank on drums. In the early 1980's we formed the band and recorded two albums for Albert Marx's Discovery Records label. We also recorded on each other's solo records and played many gigs together. Our vision was that of a life of extensive touring. Why else would you name your band Road Work Ahead? After several successful years we eventually made some changes and then the group sat dormant, until now. With a couple of recent shows behind us and now this new recording, we've rediscovered the nuances of what makes this group so special. Each member brings their own world of influences into the group, composing tunes or making arrangements. What eventually comes out is music with a wide palette of color, music that lives elegantly in the balance of improvisation versus arrangement, and music made by four individuals sharing a long time friendship.Road Work Ahead is:
Produced by Road Work Ahead
Recorded at SpragueLand Studios, Encinitas, CA
July 9-11, 2003
Recorded by Dan Abernathy and Peter Sprague
Mixed and Mastered by Peter Sprague at SpragueLand Studios
Photos, art direction, and design by Barbara Rix
Bill Mays' photo by Judy Kirtley
Bill Mays appears courtesey of Palmetto Records
Bob Magnusson plays Thomastik Strings
For more information on other Bill Mays recordings and books, visit
1) Thea's Laughter 4:13
by Bob Magnusson
Throughout the twenty-two years of her young life, I have experienced the special joy of my daughter, Thea. Among her other talents, she possesses an infectious laugh. I attempted to capture her irrepressible nature in "Thea's Laughter".
2) Samba For Shelly 4:44
by Jim Plank
This is dedicated to the great musician Shelly Manne, a major influence in my musical development. It is also the AKC name of our Golden Retriever Lilly.
3) Euterpe 5:23
by Bill Mays (BMI) Bibo Music
I was taking a college literature course years ago and ran across this name. Euterpe was one of the muses in the late Roman times characterized as the muse of the flute. Lew Tabackin recorded this song a while back on the flute.
4) Bird's Blues (Cheryl / Relaxin' at Camarillo / Perhaps) 5:17
by Charlie Parker (ASCAP) Atlantic Music Corp., arranged by Bill Mays
Gotta have some blues on every recording. These three separate tunes by Charlie Parker, all in the key of C, work well in a contrapuntal way.
5) In The Garden 6:06
by C. Austin Miles, (ASCAP), arranged by Bill Mays
This is a hymn that I heard as a young boy, and I have always loved the melody. In addition to the church-related meaning of the piece, I also think of my wife Judy and myself out working in the garden when I play it! It lends itself very naturally to a "gospel" feeling in 3/4.
6) As It Is, As You Are 4:36
by Peter Sprague (BMI) Satyam Music
One of the styles of music that I seem to bring to the group is the Brazilian samba groove. I've been interested in South American music for a long time and its combination of complex harmony working with a strong rhythmic foundation is what continues to inspire me. For this tune I've written a bunch of notes with some big intervals and delivered them to the guys and they, with all their musicality and proficiency on their instruments, bring magic to the song. The title comes from a phrase that I once read - "be with the world as it is, be with yourself as you are".
7) Modinha 5:55
by Antonio Carlos Jobim , Vinicius De Maoraes, (BMI) Corcovado Music
Corp., VM Enterprises, Inc., arranged by Peter Sprague I discovered this tune a year or so ago and have been playing it ever since. To me it conveys a wonderful feeling of both loneliness and beauty. For our version here, Bob plays the melody on arco bass and I take a solo over the tune which morphs it's way into a Coltrane like groove.
8) Just A Little Nine Eight 5:29
by Jim Plank
Unlike most songs, the middle section of this piece has no melody, just a rhythm in 9/8 played on top of a chord progression.
9) Broken Ties 7:05
by Bob Magnusson
I wrote this piece after our eldest daughter left home and I was disheartened over her departure. The abrupt measure of silence and sudden ending represent her breaking away from our home and her childhood. Addendum-Happy Ending! Gillian is happily married and the mother of three beautiful children.
10) A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square 6:29
by Sherwin/Maschwitz, (ASCAP), Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc., arranged by Bill Mays
This has always been one of my favorite ballads, but this time around I decided to give it a more up-tempo and straight-8th feeling. Once while visiting London I went to the Mayfair neighborhood to check out the square. It was pretty noisy and polluted and I couldn't find the nightingale anywhere, but we summon her up on this version!
11) Bark, Bark 5:04
by Jim Plank
Having Golden Retrievers gives a certain rhythm to life. I tried to
capture the spirit of the breed with this piece.