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06/26/13

Caroline Davis
Live Work & Play
Ears & Eyes

Caroline Davis’ debut as a leader is her second appearance on record overall, so in that sense the Chicagoan comes out of nowhere. She arrives, however, with total self-confidence. There’s just an edge of coarseness in her alto sax, just enough to add bite to sure-handed melodic travails like “Kowtow” and pathos to “Blood Count.” But the real impressive part is her rhythmic foundation: She swings (“Craftsmanship and Emptiness”) and grooves (“Passive Cloud”) assertively, and on solos like “Cheryl” deals out rests and accents like a card shark. “Passive Cloud” and the joyful “Dionysus” also mark Davis as a poised composer—still, the disc’s strongest tune is guitarist Mike Allemana’s “Academic Freedom Suite, Part 1.” Allemana himself is one of the disc’s highlights, both undergirding and gorgeously contrasting with Davis (and taking a superb spotlight of his own on “Real Rims for Kalvin,” otherwise a feature for drummer Jeremy Cunningham). Still, there’s no doubt who’s in charge on Live Work & Play.

Originally published in June 2013
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