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Billie Davies: 12 Volt

Hrayr Attarian By

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Belgium native and Los Angeles based drummer Billie Davies continues to forge her own path in the improvised music world. Endowed with an explorative temperament and unique, yet definite swing sense, Davies pays homage to Gypsy musicians on her fourth release as a leader, 12 Volt.

Just to be clear, this is not an album reinterpreting guitarist Django Reinhardt's tunes or anyone else's for that matter. It is a cohesive work of bold innovation and free flowing spontaneity in tribute to the unfettered spirit of those individuals. The title track, for instance, opens with Davies' thundering cascade of beats that fall like refreshing rain over guitarist Daniel Coffeng's earthy, slow simmering, chords. Her restless polyrhythms, tempered by the intricately textured, sublime timbres drive Coffeng's electrifying, fiery improvisation along bassist Adam Levy's densely woven rhythmic trails.

One of the thematic threads of the disc is a superb balance of cerebral creativity and a raw, visceral fervor. The passionate "Tango for Patti" is a dramatic piece filled with thrilling harmonic structures and a subtle and effusive assonance. Coffeng's crisp guitar's logical progression echoes over Davies' ardent, sensual rumble and Levy's delightfully angular, percussive bass lines.

The intelligent, spur of the moment extemporizations maintain throughout a definite melodicism. The bluesy "Gypsy" features Coffeng's soulful and mellifluous strings against Levy's agile walking bass and Davies' rocking drums in an enchanting and though provoking three-way dance. The closer, "La Sieste," meanwhile, is an ethereal and fantastical composition with gorgeously elegiac tones. Davies' dexterous alternation of whispering brushes and tapping sticks, peppered with silent pauses, creates a hypnotic ambience filled with Coffeng's quietly poetic phrasing.

As evidenced on this uniformly intriguing disc Davies thrives in the sparse, collaborative setting of the trio. Throughout her recorded legacy, her partners have changed but her artistic imagination and her inspired ingenuity have solidified and matured. The result is a stimulating, original and singularly satisfying oeuvre that, hopefully, will continue to expand and evolve.

Track Listing: Collioure; Meeting Manitas; 12 Volt; Les Landes; Tango for Patti; Grapes, Plums and Tomatoes; Gypsy; La Sieste.

Personnel: Billie Davies: drums; Daniel Coffeng: guitar; Adam Levy: bass.

Title: 12 VOLT | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Cobra Basement

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