Originals and Standards

The Neil Maya Quartets Originals and Standards project was the band’s first project. The band is one of the Southwest’s most exciting and talented bands, whose aim is to find fresh, new sounds within the wide scope of jazz whilst staying accessible to the public at large. As well as playing innovative re-workings of jazz standards and material by other composers, the band also plays its own compositions.

Music to stir the soul

Andra Johnstone, Coombeinteignhead, Villages in Action

The Neil Maya Quartet is often rooted in the sounds of the cool jazz movement of the 50’s and 60’s, but love playing other styles such as funk, samba, African and even folk-rock. The quartet is always striving to find different ways to deliver jazz, and although the soloing aspect is central to its approach, in a similar way to classical compositions, its music often tells a story which takes you on a journey across a wide and rich emotional landscape. The quartet’s music is crisp, colourful, sassy, smooth, atmospheric, intricate, cool, very imaginative and always highly entertaining!

The band covers an array of different jazz artists including Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Tom Jobim and many many more. The band’s originals are inventive, lyrical, melodic, dynamic and accessible. Check out the sounds below.

There are currently 2 albums available for purchase from the band’s online shop.


The quartet play a mix of originals by Neil (Maya) and Tom (Unwin) along with inventive re-workings of many well-known jazz standards. Style-wise, the quartet likes to be pretty eclectic with its choices: while they recognise that swing is the rhythm of jazz (and love playing it) they subscribe to the belief that there are plenty of other great grooves out there including samba, bossa, salsa and other Latin styles, as well as African grooves, rock, folk-rock etc. that should be part of their overall approach. They always try to get a varied mix of different genres into their music to keep it fresh and exciting for both themselves and the audience. They also strongly believe melody, dynamics and expression are highly important, and focus much of their energy upon this rather than simply ‘playing’ tunes and showcasing their abilities through soloing.


  • Alice in Wonderland – Sammy Fain
  • A Night in Tunisia – Dizzy Gillespie
  • Chega DeSaudade – Carlos Jobim
  • Cheesecake – Dexter Gordon
  • Django – John Lewis
  • Driftin’ – Herbie Hancock
  • Everything Happens to Me – Chet Baker
  • Fables of Faubus – Charles Mingus
  • Guataca City – Paquito d’Rivera
  • Greensleeves – Trad.
  • Israel – John Carisi
  • Joy Spring – Clifford Brown
  • La Fiesta – Chick Corea
  • Love for Sale – Cole Porter
  • My Funny Valentine – Rodgers & Hart
  • Night and Day – Cole Porter
  • Recorda-me – Joe Henderson
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow – H. Arlen
  • Spain – Chick Corea
  • Stella by Starlight – Victor Young
  • Take 5 – Paul Desmond
  • The Peacocks – Jimmy Rowles
  • This I dig of you – Hank Mobley
  • Tom Thumb – Wayne Shorter
  • Well U needn’t – Thelonious Monk
  • Think of one – Thelonious Monk
    + many more…

Original Compositions

  • A Bitter Ballad – Neil Maya
  • All Change Please – Neil Maya
  • Big Girl Funk Machine – Neil Maya
  • Ethan – Neil Maya
  • Faxosone – Neil Maya
  • Ode to a Great Shed – Neil Maya
  • Round the Bend – Neil Maya
  • The MIsts of Time – Neil Maya
  • Time on my Hands – Neil Maya
  • Welcome to the Circus – Neil Maya
  • Short Skirts and White Stilettos – Neil Maya
  • Five – Neil Maya
  • Meditative – Neil Maya
  • A Day at the Races – Neil Maya
  • Big Sur – Tom Unwin
  • Blue Sunflowers – Tom Unwin
  • Copshow Kapow – Tom Unwin
  • Dolores – Tom Unwin
  • Eric – Tom Unwin
  • Fingerprints – Tom Unwin
  • Funny Face – Tom Unwin
  • King Tut – Tom Unwin
  • Slinky – Tom Unwin
  • Undercurrents – Tom Unwin
  • The Low Down -Tom Unwin
    + new compositions added regularly!!

“What I liked about Bread & Circuses was the different styles. The Caribbean flavours really shine through in ‘All Change Please’ whilst ‘Big Girl Funk Machine’ is a really danceable track. Neil Maya is a talented and technically sound musician, who is developing his sound through his quartet. Neil Maya makes saxophone sounds reminiscent to Illinois Jacquet at times, and Cannonball Adderley’s influence can be heard throughout – however Neil Maya’s voicing and phrasing are difficult to compare to anyone. The Neil Maya Quartet is unique – something the crowd at Ronnie Scott’s would appreciate”

Brian Parker, Jazz-Radio.fm