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Wild Bill Davison: The Jazz Giants

Besides Davison, the “giants” at these 1968 sessions were Claude Hopkins, Benny Morton, Herb Hall, Arvell Shaw and Bussy Drootin on piano, trombone, clarinet, bass and drums respectively. Hopkins was the sextet’s musical director and his considerable experience as a bandleader clearly accounted for intelligent routines and programming whereby each musician was fairly featured. Until he was extensively recorded as a soloist in 1969-74, the jazz audience was largely unaware of Hopkins’ pianistic talent because he had seldom featured himself enough. His solos here are brief but commendable, an effective role as “band pianist” probably being more important in his judgement.

The Wild One’s cornet playing is in his usual robust and husky style, with emphasis on energy rather than invention. Benny Morton impresses with good, firm tone and relaxed, confident phrasing, Herb Hall didn’t have his more famous brother’s attack and drive, but exhibits a New Orleans heritage gracefully enough, especially on his showcase, “Dardanella.” Arvell Shaw does up “Yesterdays” with the bow and Buzzy Drootin again proves himself a tasteful drummer, one who, like Hopkins, puts the rhythm section first. In sum, a much more enjoyable disc than one might expect.

Originally Published