Blind John Davis

Blind John Davis

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Chicago native John Henry Davis spent most of his later years recording in Europe, where he was much better known than he was in the U.S. This release, recorded in the mid-'80s, spotlights Davis solo at the piano (except for the final bonus track, which features a vocal by Jeanne-Marie Carroll), and his warm, unhurried playing and singing is as comfortable as an old easy chair. Although he helped format the Chicago blues sound through his work in the 1930s and 1940s with artists like Tampa Red, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Big Bill Broonzy, Davis seems most at home doing a kind of lounge blues, an approach that plays to his strengths. The opening track on this collection, "I Had a Dream," sets the pace here, and it is a likeable tune that contains the line "I dreamed I won the Brooklyn Bridge on my knees shooting dice" before turning into a song of amused resignation. The wistful "I Heard an Echo" is another highlight, and "Pretty Blues for Listening" has a winning and delicate jazz feel. It all adds up to a pleasant listen, and the piano playing here is smooth and easy, with just enough Chicago left in to give the performances an edge.

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