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April 2002

Richard Davis with John Hicks
The Bassist: Homage to Diversity
Palmetto Records

Richard Davis is a bass paragon: it's a given that his sound and sense always contribute materially to any musical environment, from outside jazz to inside a symphony orchestra. The subtitle to this duets collection refers to the repertoire, the range of material and the people and concepts they represent, but it as readily refers to the range of Davis' arco technique. Davis and the bow are very much in evidence here, matched with the great John Hicks and the piano.

The program, presented in the order of recording, develops along a constant curve, opening in a darkly sensuous mode that builds from Hicks' citation of "Come Sunday," by way of introducing Ellington's "Warm Valley," through Frank Foster's "Simone" to the gorgeous "Estate." The next several selections take on a devotional quality, including the bassist's arrangement of a sonata by Eccles and "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Finally, this duo brings it home in a lighter vein, breaking out with Parker's "Little Benny" and closing out with a loose-limbed "C.C. Rider."

Originally published in April 2002
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