Caroline Davis: Doors: Chicago Storylines

Hrayr Attarian By

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Doors: Chicago Storylines is altoist Caroline Davis' unique take on oral history. Interweaving original compositions with area musicians' narratives Davis reconstructs the history of Chicago jazz in a uniquely engaging and articulate style.

On "Chicago Sound?" for instance, after a discussion on the type of jazz played in various neighborhoods, Davis plays soulfully with a cool swagger and embellishes it with clever and soulful ornamentations. Guitarist Mike Allemana follows with a blues drenched earthy improvisation.

Allemana weaves stimulating lines into an eloquent and evocative spontaneous soliloquy on "Rounds: For The Horses." His elegant performance matches Davis' passionate and intricate phraseology as her saxophone rises and falls gracefully and with charm. The music is interspersed with anecdotes about saxophonist Von Freeman.

The pieces, all penned by Davis, are delightfully intricate and impressionistic. The cinematic "Fields" contrasts trumpeter Russ Johnson's warm poetic solo with Allemana's crisp and angular one. Bassist Matt Ferguson takes his turn in the spotlight with superb lyricism. Davis' yearning extemporization is laced with a mystical sense especially during her intriguing exchange with drummer Jeremy Cunningham.

The opener, "Golden Era" sets the dramatic ambience with overlapping conversations fading into Davis' haunting vocalese and cellist Katinka Kleijn undulating expressive bowing. Davis overdubs her wordless singing and her emotive alto stylings to hypnotic effect on "Lin." Dedicated to the tenorist Lin Halliday, the tune opens with spoken remembrance followed by a sublime and melancholic melody that flows over pianist Ron Perillo's thick, resonant chords.

This captivating disc closes with the title track, an effervescent and buoyant ballad with a romantic edge. Sounds of the "L" train serve as an apt conclusion.

This enjoyable and alluring album certainly holds significant interest for Chicago jazz scene enthusiasts. Its charisma and its inventiveness, however, go beyond regional categorization and satisfy any fan of creative musical expression.

Title: Doors: Chicago Storylines | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ears&eyes Records

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