Jazz CD Reviews

Steve Davis – Images – Posi-Tone

Must be a mighty fine town…

Published on June 6, 2010

Steve Davis – Images – Posi-Tone

Steve Davis – Images – Posi-Tone PR8066, 56:13 ****½:

(Steve Davis, trombone; Mike DiRubbo, alto sax; David Bryant, piano; Josh Evans, trumpet & Flugelhorn; Dezron Douglas, bass; Eric McPherson, drums; Kris Jensen, tenor sax on “Club 880”)

Steve Davis graduated from the University of Hartford in 1989, where he studied under the tutelage of the master, Jackie McLean. After graduation, Davis soon hit the road with Art Blakey. He returned to Hartford in 1992, and has resided there since. On Davis’ latest Posi-Tone release Steve honors his home town on Images -The Hartford Suite. What appears to be the Hartford skyline graces the front cover of the CD. Inside, with the limited liner notes, is a mini-map of the town.

Images contains my kind of jazz – straight ahead classic hard bop, which retains its luster through repeated listening. Like a Jazz Messengers band, Davis’ group blends cohesively, with standout drummer Eric McPherson, like Blakey, driving the beat with cymbal work. Once again producer Marc Free, and engineer Nick O’Toole, have done a righteous job in getting the sound mix just perfect. There is an audiophile quality warmness that fills the soundstage with  near-SACD quality that will be appreciated on a stereo system that highlights midrange acoustics.

You will find something to like on every track, whether it be the horn blend on “Nato” before Davis takes his solo; the relaxing sweetness of “The Modernist,”; the unheralded work of David Bryant on piano and Josh Evans on trumpet and flugelhorn; or the “visits” to the neighborhoods in town described by Davis in his liner notes. Steve honors Nat Reeves on “Nato”, Jackie McLean on “J Mac’s Way”, and jazz clubs Kenney’s and Club 880.

A reviewer’s dilemma in critiquing a CD like Images is that every track pleases and it is difficult to not describe every track in an overly long review. So, I’ll just say that if you love 1960s Blue Note horn-driven hard bop (and most any true jazz LP collector fits into this category), you can’t go wrong taking in the “Images” that Steve Davis brings to the table in his paean to his home town. Now if he only had time to run for mayor. “No new taxes, and jazz on every corner…”

TrackList:  Nato, The Modernist, Twain’s World, J Mac’s Way, Mode for Miantonomoh, Rose Garden, Tune for Calhoun, Park Street, Kenny’s Club 880

– Jeff Krow

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