Charles Davis: Land of Dreams (2007)
In the shrinking world of "legendary" jazz performers, all star sessions and one-offs are the norm. This release is a rare treat that gives a real look-see at saxophonist Charles Davis in the context of his working band. Davis, with his baritone sax, was part of the seminal Jazz Composer's Orchestra and early groups fronted by Sun Ra. Among a host of other top-flight ensembles, he also anchored the reed sections for saxophonist Ben Webster and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. His sessions as a leader have been all too infrequent but with Land of Dreams that is somewhat rectified as he steps to the front on tenor and soprano sax.
It is obvious from this release that Davis has been working and putting in a lot of time with pianist Tardo Hammer and a rhythm section of Lee Hudson on bass and drummer Jimmy Wormworth. There is an integrative spiritual feel to these compositions, which are heavy on the traditional but also include a few originals, that can only come from a band playing together.
Beginning with a reverential Tranesque consecration, "JC" quickly turns into a swinger that allows Hammer to show some of his sway. Interestingly, Davis seems particularly suited to exploring the soprano sax and his improvisational forays with the instrument on the lightly swinging "Moon Nocturne" and intriguing Herbie Nichols composition "Some Wandering Bushman" as well as Monk's "We See" are highlights. His tenor fills the room with a smoky Ben Webster mood on the gorgeous Tadd Dameron ballad "If You Could See Me Now" and chomps and growls a bit on a jazzy-bossa version of "How Am I to Know?" The title cut, a "Cherokee"-inspired bopper, brings this recording to a quick-paced swinging conclusion.
Track Listing: JC; Moon Nocturne; How Am I To Know?; If You Could See Me Now; Love For Sale; Some Wandering Bushman; Strangeness; We See; Land of Dreams.
Personnel: Charles Davis: tenor and soprano saxophone; Tardo Hammer: piano; Lee Hudson: bass; Jimmy Wormworth: drums.