January/February 1997

Steve Davis
Songs We Know
DMP

This is a drummer's record. The group has reinvented a series of jazz standards, turning the melodies inside out and framing them with inventive rhythmic patterns and drummer's twists.

The quartet includes guitarist John Hart, saxophonist Jed Levy, and Drew Gress at the bass. Davis has worked frequently with each, notably Gress, with whom he forms the Lynne Arriale trio. Though they never worked as a group, the interplay and creative spark is obvious on each track.

Davis adds some special touches, whether by way of sentient bare-hand accents on "Naima," the delicate cymbal flourishes in an open rendition of "Blue In Green," or the mallets in a haunting "You Don't Know What Love Is." These and other rhythmic devices, together with the special work of the sensitive guitar and bass backings, give these time-worn songs a novel reading. When called on, Levy's saxophone adds the right flavor.

The album pulls together a successful and integrated presentation of what might otherwise be a mere experimental session. - Sid Gribetz

Originally published in January/February 1997
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