May 2003

Jesse Davis
The Setup

Jesse Davis is yet another contemporary alto player whose conception and tone owe much to Cannonball Adderley. Nonetheless, on The Setup (Alltribe), his eighth album as a leader, Davis has developed a mature musical personality of his own within that general stylistic mode. With a hearty, expressive tone and a stomping beat, he works over a repertoire that includes up-tunes, Latins, blues and ballads. His expressiveness is especially evident on the latter, which include a poignant reading of J.J. Johnson's classic "Lament." On the swingers, however, such as the charging, uptempo "The End of a Love Affair," it's hold onto your hat. Davis' ability to swing hard is enhanced by the presence of a stellar rhythm section anchored by the propulsive bassist Ray Drummond and including drummer Donald Edwards and guitarist Peter Bernstein (there is no piano). A fluid, imaginative bop-style virtuoso in his own right, Bernstein also serves as a formidable frontline partner. His attractive tone and highly developed melodic sense are on full display on the ballad "The Very Thought of You."

Originally published in May 2003

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