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Michael Davis - Hip-Bone Big Band: Open City


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Michael Davis - Hip-Bone Big Band: Open City
Michael Davis is an accomplished trombonist who has had a long career of live and studio work accompanying a varied roster of big-name jazz and rock talents such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Mintzer, Buddy Rich, Paul Simon, and Sarah Vaughan. He is also an established solo artist and composer who leads an imposing large ensemble, the Hip-Bone Big Band.

The big band's second album is an exuberant affair which reflects the joy of getting back to playing live and recording with others in a reopened post-pandemic New York City. All the music on the album was written by either Davis or his son, Cole, who plays bass on the album. The instrument sections often play in unison blocks intricately fitted together which give off a joyful vibe that combines big swells of brass and reeds with subtly driving rhythms.

This shows on lively pieces such as "State of the Art" where the brass and saxophones dance over a tough New Orleans-inflected martial funk beat, powered by Jared Schonig's drums, and the faster boppish groove of "Cat Walk." The arrangements are tight but they leave room for impassioned solos by trombonist Marshall Gilkes and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez on the former and saxophonists Matt Hong and Sam Dillon on the latter. This approach is best realized in "Open City" itself, a tune where the instruments shout in bright cascades which gradually build in power and volume. The music is exciting but never out of control, with the solos of Rodriguez and tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts riding the entire band's surging energy.

The sax and brass sections fit together just as well on quieter tracks which feature excellent solo work. On Cole Davis' "Three And Out," the composer's bass leads the band in a graceful skipping melody which gives way to Andy Ezrin's elegant piano solo. "Cole Henry" is a waltz which spotlights Steve Wilson's soprano sax, and Michael Davis himself solos over the mellow glide of "Underdog." "Ladybug" has a playful melody which slightly recalls Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance." It is executed with a cool, assured swing and contains more fine piano by Ezrin.

This album shows that Michael Davis is a force in his own right as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. He can find both fresh excitement and serene joy within the realm of conventional big-band jazz, something ably shown by the confidence and class of this album.

Track Listing

Hossland; Open City; Three and Out; Cole Henry; State of the Art; Underdog; Dark Horse; Ladybug; Cat Walk; Bone Man Walking.


Michael Davis
Steve Wilson
saxophone, alto
Andy Snitzer
Troy Roberts
Charles Pillow
Sam Dillon
saxophone, tenor
Frank Basile
saxophone, baritone
Tony Kadleck
Ryan Keberle
David Finck
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

David Mann: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Matt Hong: alto saxophone (2,3,5,9,10); Jim Hynes: trumpet, flugelhorn (2,3,5,9,10); Zaq Davis: trumpet, flugelhorn (1,4,6,7,8); Judy Yin-Chi Lee: French Horn (4,8); Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone. Steve Wilson: soprano sax (1,4,6,7,8); Andy Snitzer: clarinet (1,4,6,7,8); Troy Roberts (2,3,5,9,10); Charles Pillow: clarinet (1,4,6,7,8); Sam Dillon: (2,3,5,9,10); Frank Basile: bass clarinet; Tony Kadleck {1,4,6,7,8); Scott Wendholt (1,4,6,7,8); Maneco Ruiz (2,3,5,9,10); Mike Rodrigeuz (2,3,5,9,10); David Finck (1,5,6,8,9); Cole Davis (2,3,4,7).

Album information

Title: Open City | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced


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