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soloduotrio by Ron Davis

A popular figure in the Toronto jazz scene, Ron Davis presents his talents in a variety of settings and styles on soloduotrio and demonstrates his mastery of each of them. Four cuts feature his solo playing, revealing his affection for stride and swing. Three others find him in duets with bassist Drew Birston, another Toronto player worth watching for. Having Birston hold the bottom only enhances Davis' sense of swing, nowhere better illustrated than on their original take on Duke Ellington's "Caravan," with Birston accenting Davis' piano with both arco and plucked accompaniment.

The other two duos find Davis accompanying the vocals of Lori Cullen, a distinctive singer with an appealing voice and terrific phrasing. Vocal accompaniment is a special skill in its own right, and judging by these cuts, Davis possesses that skill in abundance. If there's any regret it's that there are only two - I'd welcome a full album by Davis and Cullen.

There are two trio cuts, one offering Davis, Birston and violinist San Murata evoking memories of Stephane Grappelli on "Moonlight In Vermont," and one with the pianist and bassist joined by Pat Wheeler's soprano saxophone on "Moon River." The latter provides a powerful reminder of how great a melody Mr. Mancini created with a creative rendition of a song that's too often merely tossed off by artists of lesser talent.

This is a solid album of straight ahead jazz, a great example of the ability to produce accessible music without falling into "soft jazz" cliches.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ron Davis
  • CD Title: soloduotrio
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Cullinor Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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