Richard Davis

Forest Flowers

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This compilation consists of reissued tracks from three of Davis' Muse titles: 1979's Harvest, 1975's With Understanding, and 1980's Way Out West. The ones from Harvest seem a little cluttered, with Davis playing bowed melodies and solos and second bassist Bill Lee (Spike's father) laying down the bottom. Davis is at his best on "Passion Flower" and the unaccompanied intro to "A Third Away." Guitarist Ted Dunbar and altoist/flutist James Spaulding add interest to the session. But the preponderance of arco bass makes the music a bit too bottom-heavy. The same can be said of the selections from With Understanding. The band is better, however. It includes Chick Corea, at a time when the pianist wasn't playing a great deal of acoustic music. Unfortunately, the piano is not recorded very well. Sam Brown's acoustic guitar adds a nice dimension, and Bill Lee again plays second bass but is utilized with more subtlety. Lee's three originals, "Monica," "The Rabbi," and "Baby Sweets," are varied and rewarding. Better still, however, are the Way Out West tracks. The first finds Davis and tenor legend Joe Henderson playing duo on a slow-burning take of "On the Trail," the best track on the compilation hands down. Pianist Stanley Cowell and drummer Billy Cobham then join Davis for a bright trio reading of "I'm Old Fashioned." To conclude, Henderson and trumpeter Eddie Henderson join in for a quintet version of C.L. Moorehead's soaring ballad "Song of Gratitude."

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