Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Steve Davis - Eloquence (JLC, 2009)

Trombonist Steve Davis is a natural choice for a new mainstream jazz label, as he is a veteran of many hard-bop bands as either a leader or a sideman, and is known for classy and thoughtful traditional jazz. Alongside Davis are a heavy hitting ensemble of legendary pianist Hank Jones, Nat Reeves on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Sitting in on several tracks are Steve Nelson on vibes, Roy Hargrove on trumpet and flugelhorn and John Lee on bass. The album opens strongly with the bebop anthem "Yardbird Suite" which is taken at a fast clip. With no saxophone on the front line with him, Davis has plenty for room to stretch out in his solo, and does so quite well. Jones supplies a fast an moving solo as well. Steve Nelson, best known for his work in the Dave Holland Quintet, supplies some excellent vibes to several of the tracks, beginning with the standard "Minor Contention" where he and Davis trade improvised segments. Other highlights of the album include a nicely paced version of the famous John Lewis composition "Django" with Nelson tipping his hat to Milt Jackson along the way, and a fun romp through the ancient New Orleans standard "When the Saints Go Marching In" with trombone leading the group through a uptempo parade ground strut. Mainstream jazz fans should get a kick out of this album, with familiar songs played in a thoughtful and classy manner. The music has an easygoing vibe of old friends who got together to play some of their favorite songs, and the enthusiasm is infectious.
Eloquence - amazon.com

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