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April 2005

Steve Davis
Meant to Be
Criss Cross Jazz

Meant to Be (Criss Cross) shows Steve Davis to be a double threat-as a composer and as a trombonist. All the tracks are originals, revealing Davis' inventive ear for harmony and passion for melody. His postbop phrasing and smooth tone result in an updated amalgam of J.J. Johnson and Slide Hampton-two of his heroes. As leader, Davis can be proud of his tight, swinging quintet. He's very generous with stretch-out time for sidemen and makes full use of saxophonist Jimmy Greene, whose tenor, soprano and flute offer colorful timbres for an ever-changing front line. "Bright Side" and "Choices" find tenor and trombone briskly alternating between unison and harmony lines. "As Fate Would Have It," introduced and ended by the explosive drumming of Nasheet Waits, features Greene's most intense tenor work, Davis at his most fluid (especially considering the bright tempo) and the shining work of pianist Xavier Davis. "Waiting" is one of Davis' most rhapsodic melodies, enhanced by Greene's flute. Bassist Dwayne Burno contributes a very melodic solo to "Blues Across the World," a track that marks the recording debut of young tenorist Ray McMorrin, who seemingly prefers the rarefied air of the alto.

Originally published in April 2005
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