224

Steve Davis: Vibe Up!

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Considering Steve Davis’ nine-months-a-year commitment to Chick Corea and Origin and his ongoing participation in the cooperative band One For All, one might think that his fourth recording as a leader for Criss Cross would sound like a blowing date. It’s quite the opposite. Despite the fact that Vibe Up! was recorded in a single session, the music is well organized as well as thoroughly enjoyable.

With the exception of three cuts with alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, the front line consists of the leader’s trombone, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and the vibes of Steve Nelson. This somewhat unusual combination of instruments blends surprisingly well, because of Davis’ tasteful arrangements of mostly his own compositions, and his willingness to sacrifice the spotlight in favor of a balanced ensemble sound. The same democratic approach applies to the solo space, in which everyone (including pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth) gets ample opportunities to shine and they all make the most of it.

Although Davis’ solo turns are by no means extensive, they are unhurried, well constructed, and soulful. On Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere,” he burns through the tempo changes of David Hazeltine’s fine arrangement with ease. During Thad Jones’ ballad, “The Summary,” Davis leaves the improvisation to Washington and Hazeltine, but his playing of the tune’s melody is pure beauty.

The drumming of Joe Farnsworth deserves special mention. His crisp-sounding drums and cymbals animate the entire disc. A four-note snare and bass drum figure behind Bernstein’s solo on Davis’ “Blue Domain” creates suspense in what might otherwise be a mundane funk rhythm. Similarly, his penchant for expertly executing light, on-the-beat cymbal crashes adds both color and drive. Most of all, Farnsworth has a remarkable rapport with Hazeltine, especially on the title cut, where their playing has a delightful, conversational quality.

Track List: Vibe Up!; It’s The Little Things That Count; Somewhere; Blue Domain; The Summary; Three-Way Street; Tournesol; Mode For Damo.


Track Listing: Vibe Up!, It's the Little Things That Count, Somewhere, Blue Domain, The Summary, Three-Way Street, Tournesol, Mode For Damo (63:11)

Personnel: Steve Davis- trombone, Steve Nelson- vibes, Peter Bernstein- guitar, Mike DiRubbo- alto saxophone (tracks 4,7, and 8 only), David Hazeltine- piano, Peter Washington- bass, Joe Farnsworth- drums

Title: Vibe Up! | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Criss Cross


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwise: The Music Of Cedar Walton
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Aural Vertigo" CD/LP/Track Review Aural Vertigo
by Daniel Barbiero
Published: July 9, 2017
Read "My Head Is Listening" CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Verisimilitude" CD/LP/Track Review Verisimilitude
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Masters Of War" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Of War
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.