Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Billie Davies Trio All About Love Cobra Basement 2012

After reviewing releases for well over two years now I know what I like...namely an artist that can take "old school" and flip the sound into "new cool." The Billie Davies Trio does this as well as any trio around but with literally bare bones instrumentation they run on passion, ingenuity and raw talent that ensembles twice their size spend an entire career looking for.

All About Love hits the streets on 09/25/12 and what we have are some iconic classics given a more contemporary spin while maintaining the integrity of the original. When most people think trio they think piano, bass and drums. Here we have Billie Davies on drums, Tom Bone Ralls on trombone and Oliver Steinberg holding things together on bass. Organic, eclectic, or jazz minimalism it works! Outside of a little reverb on the trombone the recording is literally live in the studio, as raw and real as live jazz gets. Opening with "Stella By Starlight" we have a straight ahead swing, lyrically driven and with spot on phrasing and dynamics. While the instumentation may be somewhat eclectic the accessibility of the music should satisfy those that often say, "I don't like jazz but I like that..." The John Coltrane classic "Naima" is dialed back to a more expressive and soulful ballad showcasing the virtuoso talent that is Tom Bone Ralls. Steinberg is rock steady on bass and the deceptively subtle nuances from Davies on drums help take the musical train straight to the station. "Afro Blue" has a nice syncopated pop and harmonic direction. Swing is king.

What is incredibly refreshing with All About Love is that the music is allowed to flow freely. Nothing is self indulgent, pretentious or over blown but instead Davies as most good drummers will do - pushes the music front and center. There is all most nothing that is not enjoyable with this release. The organic sound is reminiscent of the work of Rudy Van Gelder which should give you an idea of just how pristine the quality of this disc really is. The trio doesn't hang out in odd meter or subscribe to the speed is king school of music theory. The Billie Davies Trio plays it straight, when you are that good you can do that.

Billie Davies has gone from Bohemian jazz gypsy to a formidable talent in jazz drumming. The irony is that her interest was peaked by the Phil Collins pop smash "In The Air Tonight." Bottom line is it is not the road taken but reaching your destination as a musician that counts.  A superior release that hits all its marks perfectly!

Tracks: Stella By Starlight; Downtown In The Rain; Jean Pierre; Naima; Afro Blue; Green Cheese; BUrst; High Noon; Afro Blue Too; Stella By Starlight Too.

Personnel: Billie Davies: drums; Tom Bone Ralls: trombone; Oliver Steinberg: bass.