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Angela Davis: The Art of The Melody (2013)

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Angela Davis: The Art of The Melody How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Saxophonist and All About Jazz contributor Angela Davis
Angela Davis
Angela Davis
b.1985
saxophone
has made it official, releasing her debut recording, The Art of The Melody. Davis joins a growing legion of female reeds players that includes Sharel Cassity
Sharel Cassity
Sharel Cassity

saxophone
, Alisha Pattillo, Virginia Mayhew
Virginia Mayhew
Virginia Mayhew
b.1959
sax, tenor
, Claire Daly
Claire Daly
Claire Daly

sax, baritone
, and Mercedes Figueras, who are flexing their respective chops in the ravenous particles of digital music.

Concentrating on alto saxophone for this recording, Davis immediately channels the dry ice-and-gin tone established in the early 1950s by the young Art Pepper
Art Pepper
Art Pepper
1925 - 1982
sax, alto
and Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
1924 - 1977
sax, alto
. Her tone is even and narrow, uniformly dense throughout its spectrum. Think of a Bombay Sapphire martini, straight up, with an olive; expand that metaphor, and you get the idea. But that is just her tone. Davis' choice of repertoire spans some 300 years, between the Scottish folk song "Annie Laurie" and those originals more recently composed.

Davis crosses jazz styles effortlessly, transitioning from her bebop-oriented "41. St Nick" into an adult contemporary acoustic treatment of Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone." Her band is as style-pliant as she is, featuring noted bassist Linda Oh
Linda Oh
Linda Oh

bass
, whose own Initial Here (Self Produced, 2013) could not be more different than the present recital. All members take Davis' lead, producing an integrated 1950s-style blowing session in the 21st Century. This music is lean and trim, well conceived from beginning to end. The traditional "Annie Laurie" is given a John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
quartet arrangement, transformed into a modern ballad.

Tom Waits' "Martha" is organic in presentation, Chris Ziemba's churchy piano sweeping along Davis' dry "wounded bird" alto into its melodic flight on this beautiful and neglected song. Yes, Frank Morgan
Frank Morgan
Frank Morgan
1933 - 2007
sax, alto
makes his influential appearance in Davis' pedigree. That tone is continued on Chaplin's "Smile," played as a duet between Davis and Oh, a pairing from whom we might want to hear again in the future.

Track Listing: St. Nich; We’re All Alone; Annie Laurie; The Road to Montgomery; Conscientia; Crazy She Calls Me; Joana’s Waltz; Martha; Smile.

Personnel: Angela Davis: saxophone; Chris Ziemba: piano; Linda Oh: bass; Rajiv Jayaweera: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz


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