Richard Davis

Muses for Richard Davis

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Bass virtuoso Richard Davis enlisted a core group of his colleagues from the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra for this 1969 recording. It's a meeting of post-bop titans who not only know how to play, but also how to play together. Davis, himself, was a regular in the Jones/Lewis organization from 1966 to 1972. The set includes smartly written arrangements for septet and sextet, and a fresh interpretation of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" from Davis, Sir Roland Hanna (piano), and Louis Hayes (drums). Their reworking of this standard is crisp, angular, and propulsive. It leaves the listener hungry for a dedicated session -- or several -- that further captures the trio's stunning interplay. The artist takes his fair share of solos here, but leaves lots of space for his fellow players. Trombonist Jimmy Knepper is in the spotlight on his own "Milktrain" and shares it with Pepper Adams on Adams' "What is it?" "Toe Tail Moon," from altoist Jerry Dodgion, has powerhouse choruses from Dodgion, Eddie Daniels, Adams, Knepper, Hanna, and Davis. Next to the high-energy, hard-driving music on the other tracks, the introspective, piano-bass dialogue on "A Child Is Born" and the moody, bass-trumpet duet (Freddie Hubbard's lone appearance) on the title-track seem out of place. These would have been more at home on a collection devoted to similar pieces. Here, unfortunately, they just sound like time-outs from the main event provided by the killer trio in the rhythm section and the razor sharp work of the horns, both as a section and as soloists.

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