Although his style runs along hard bop lines, alto saxophonist Jesse Davis' sixth album as a leader is a straight-ahead modern mainstream album that emphasizes his lyricism and familiar ease with a melody. In Robert Altman's film Kansas City, Davis performed in his own intense style, displaying the edginess in his saxophone tone and the speed with which he can play that instrument. For this session he's backed by pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Kenny Washington and guitarist Peter Bernstein. The compositions are his own, and the New Orleans native shows influences that can be traced back through the history of jazz.
Some of the tunes float with a lyrical pleasantness: "Nola," "Midnight Blue," and "A Little R&R." Some of the tunes are driven with intensity: "Donkey Stomp," "J's Idea," and "B.Y.O.G." Bernstein joins the ensemble for six of the nine tracks, and his presence serves to add a softer timbre. Miller's expressive piano artistry is full of energy; his quirky portrayal on "Jetlagged" is a fine example of the variety he employs. Washington's drum set provides the spark and syncopation, while Carter's bass maintains the pulse; they share the spotlight with solos on "J's Idea" and "A Funny Thing" respectively. With lyrics including "I can't sing," Davis adds comic relief on "A Funny Thing," showing us his "everyman's" vocal talent.
The session allows a lot of time for improvised solo work from Davis, Miller and Bernstein, but because the compositions are well-crafted, it's much more than just a "blowing session." In the liner notes, Jesse Davis quotes Mulgrew Miller with an appropriate thought, "It's always nice to hear a musician who not only takes his time, but also has something to say." Recommended.
First Insight; Nola; A Little R & R; B.Y.O.G.; Midnight Blue; J's Idea; A Funny Thing; Jetlagged; Donkey Stomp (61:34).
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.