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Tony Davis: Golden Year

Kyle Simpler By

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Tony Davis: Golden Year
Tony Davis definitely knows how to get things done. At 25, he has already earned a Master's Degree and is involved in musical education. He has played and recorded with some of the most notable jazz musicians around, including the group, Works For Me. With Golden Year, his first solo album, Davis captures the energy of his recent experiences and transforms it into an exciting musical offering. This record not only showcases Davis' talent as a guitarist and composer, but it also highlights the fact that Davis is someone with a wide range of musical influences, who has something to say with his compositions and his playing.

It's unsurprising that Davis has a broad musical palette to draw from. Both his parents are musicians, composers and educators. He studied piano and brass instruments before taking up guitar. Davis' initial influences on guitar, however, weren't jazz players. He spent much of his early years listening to blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy. Although the music on Golden Year is purely jazz, the influence of the blues comes across strongly in Davis' playing. His guitar technique conveys the expressiveness of a good musical storyteller.

Davis is supported here by a solid core group, featuring David Bryant on piano, Dezron Douglas on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. Davis also brings in some exceptional guest musicians such as his father, trombonist Steve Davis, alto saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, drummer Jk kim and vocalist Alina Engibaryan.

Rather than simply being a collection of random songs, the compositions on Golden Year provide something of a musical autobiography. Each of the selections creates impressions of different experiences and events in Davis' life. The title track, for example, offers a driving upbeat melody that reflects his experiences during the past year. He wanted the song to convey a sense of the energy he has recently experienced. As he explains, the "rush of living in NYC, making a name for myself as an upcoming musician, jumping on every opportunity as it presents itself." The song features a tight interplay between Davis and his band.

Both "Braeburn" and "Night Ride" take a look back at Davis' youth. "Orange Feathers" is a touching piece he wrote for his girlfriend, featuring Engibaryan. Engibaryan also appears on "Lake Sebago," which was inspired by Davis' Walden-like experience at a lake house in Maine. There is a personal connection running through all of the selections.

While most of the album consists of original material, Davis does include some covers that have particular significance to him. His excellent version of Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love" is a fitting tribute to the musician Davis describes as "the reason I play guitar in the first place." The Chico Buarque composition, "Sinhá," and the Canhoto da Paraíba song, "Tua Imagem," both show Davis' Brazilian influences while paying homage to composers not as well known as Antonio Carlos Jobim. With the Dizzy Gillespie original, "Con Alma," Davis gives a nod to his father, Steve, who spent years playing with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars. Naturally, Steve Davis is featured on this track and takes much of the melody.

This impressive debut album highlights Davis' talent in both performance and composition. Golden Year will surely be another important milestone in Davis' life.

Track Listing

Golden Year; Braeburn; May This Be Love; Night Ride; Orange Feathers; Sinhá; Hypnagogia; Con Alma; El Gran Birane; Lake Sebago; Tua Imagem.

Personnel

Tony Davis: guitar; David Bryant: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Eric McPherson: drums; Steve Davis: trombone; Steve Wilson: saxophone, alto; Jk kim : drums; Alina Engibaryan: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Golden Year | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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