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Ron Davis: Subarashii Live

Jerry D'Souza By

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Pianist Ron Davis is a player with many strengths. He is not afraid to pull several influences into his compositions and enrich them. He plays with a compelling passion, his journey marked by reflection as well as by abandon. He brings it all together, working in close harmony with his band to create an impressive musical palette.

Subarashii means great in Japanese and that is precisely what Davis says he felt after a tour of Japan. Back in Canada, he wasted no time in getting his band to play two dates at Paul Hahn Pianos, a venue in Toronto.

The music has a nice flow even as styles flit from one tune to another. The mood is set with "Allelujah, a gentle blues that vents its way in on Davis's piano before Richard Underhill takes it into gospel land on his alto saxophone. The whole is divined by the parts, and it comes thorough the seamless horn lines and all five comfortable in the groove.

Construction and freedom find their haven in "D'Hora. Underhill gets the klezmer melody singing, angling his notes and letting long lines sweep in. He then goes out on the trail opening a swell of ideas, firing them with burnished phrases. Sacha Boychouk adds the sweet sounds of the clarinet, swinging the pulse, but he is right in there with the hard interjections that push the boundaries without breaking them. Davis is lyrical, his run chockfull of harmonic delight. It's a fine tune that clasps attention, as does the stunning "Réel de Pointe-au-Pic. Davis pirouettes in with a light touch, opening reference points for Boychouk. Soon they are off on an entertaining path that takes in the delights of New Orleans music, some swing and Dixieland, making this compelling listening.

Davis has once more created music that appeals right down the line.

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