Steve Davis

Systems Blue

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Steve Davis, the Criss Cross house trombonist and a member of One for All, is joined by a couple bandmates and two other label regulars for a session mostly devoted to standards. The setting sets Davis' deep debt to the work of J.J. Johnson in sharp relief. The trombonist develops his solos with smooth, measured phrases that emphasize eighth-note lines mostly in the middle register of the horn. On tunes such as "Who Can I Turn To," his work also bears evidence of early Miles Davis (not surprising given the close relationship between the trumpet legend and J.J. Johnson in the late '40s when each was coming to grips with bebop). What Davis lacks that his namesake had was a dramatic way with the melody. This is most evident on the trombonist's matter-of-fact reading of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square." Pianist David Hazeltine's eloquent, bop-based impressionism provides a fine foil for the leader's horn. The two tracks with Mike DiRubbo are more in the Coltrane modal mode and, though well played, seem out of place in the session.

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