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Now this is a different twist: performing the music of Sting, Brahms, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky with jazz interpretations. Jazz artists have at many times translated classical and pop music into their repertoire, and bassist Joshua Davis takes an interesting approach with his release Squashua. Not only is Davis an accomplished musician who has performed with names like Clark Terry and Gene Bertoncini, he also holds the position of Director of Jazz/Commercial Studies at Towson University near Baltimore, Maryland. Joined by fellow visionaries pianist Vardan Ovsepian, percussonist Take Toriyama, and guitarist Tim Miller, Davis found something unique and common in each of the composers' music he chose to document with the intent of channeling their voices into his own.
With a colorist approach the music glows with a variety of hues that keep the familiar compositions playful, cerebral, and surprising. Though the arrangements are presented in a straightforward approach, the prize is found in the superlative musicianship of each player. Davis is a wonderful, deep bassist who not only keeps the music balanced but also interjects spontaneous solos and interplay. Ovsepian brings the classically trained piano aesthetic to the music, while Toriyama creates a bright canvas of assorted sounds with drums and an assortment of percussion. The cool guitar work by Tim Miller only appears on half of the selections but is also quite memorable.
Though the style of each composer is different the music finds an equal balance that blurs perceptions. Whether it is the slight reggae-spiced flavor on the pop hit "Walking On The Moon, the exotic aura of Tchaikovsky's "Symphony #5 Andante Cantabile," or the rubato dance of Davis' own composition "You Must Believe In Xin"the result is both enlightening and rewarding.
Note: This recording is available from CD Baby on the web.
Track Listing: 1. Message In A Bottle;
2. Symphony #5 Andante Cantabile;
3. Fields of Gold;
4. Symphony #3 Poco Allegretto;
5. Symphony #4 Allegro non troppo;
6. Walking on the Moon;
7. Symphony #5 Allegro;
8. You Must Believe In Xin;
9. Symphony #4 Allegro non troppo;
11. Moonlight Sonata Allegretto;
12. Seven Days;
Personnel: Joshua Davis - bass; Vardan Ovsepian - piano; Take Toriyama - drums/percusson; Tim Miller - guitar.
| Year Released: 2005
| Record Label: Unknown label
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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