Art Davis

A Time Remembered

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Anytime bassist Art Davis records, it's an event. In this instance, he's chosen such fellow heavyweights as pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith to join him, but it's saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (son of jazz giant John Coltrane) who really holds up his end of the bargain here. He plays inspired, fluid, melodic lines, quite reminiscent of another second-generation saxophonist, Joshua Redman. Davis, who played with John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and the NBC Orchestra, among others, continues to be a force on his instrument; he also wrote three of the eight pieces here. "Art's Boogie" is a simple, funky, groovin' blues biscuit; on the song's bass-led bridge, Davis quotes "Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World." The 15-minute title track is a three-piece suite: "Sorrow" is a slow march beat with serene soprano and cascading piano; the hard-boppish "Uplift" features Coltrane on tenor sax; and "Joy," which starts out at a frantic, "Jumpin' at the Woodside"-type pace, showcases Hancock's animated measures. The best song on the album, "Everybody's Doing It," is a combination of Smith's steady tick-tock beats, Hancock's spatial modalities, and a lovely melody by Coltrane on soprano; a bowed bass solo by Davis again shows why he's a king, albeit a relatively unheralded one. The quartet play Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" perfectly, with Coltrane in excellent form on tenor. Hancock contributes the hip blues swinger "Driftin'," which features a Horace Silver-ish groove and a neat bass solo by Davis. The foursome passionately tackle John Coltrane's modal "Ole," which builds slowly from warm to steaming to blazing, thanks to Ravi's inspired blowing and Hancock's salty, swift piano inflections, all spiced by Davis' incredible mezzo piano harmonic solo, which buzzes and weaves through caverns of midnight blue. The stunning ballad "Everytime We Say Goodbye" proves Ravi's mettle, echoing his legendary father but moving past into his own realm of sheer beauty. This is a truly outstanding recording and one of the very best CDs of 1995.

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