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Jay Ashby/Steve Davis: Mistaken Identity

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Sure, the fine print on this double trombone session is helpful. Pan right to hear Jay Ashby in the mix; pan left to hear Steve Davis. But after isolating the principal identities on Mistaken Identity with a little knob-twirling, just sit back and enjoy this cozy brass summit, as the two veteran players engage in a delightful series of collaborations inspired by both original tunes and pop standards. The mood is relaxed, the harmonies burnished, and the camaraderie couldn’t be more apparent.

In fact, among the album highlights is a take on Neal Hefti’s theme for The Odd Couple that illustrates just how fluidly and soulfully Ashby and Davis complement each other. Such close rapport won’t come as news to those familiar with Ashby and Davis’ work with Slide Hampton and the World of Trombones and other ensembles.

Needless to say, fans of the landmark trombone duo recordings made by J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding should find considerable pleasure here. Yet there’s nothing tediously derivative about the arrangements, which generously showcase a rotating cast that includes pianist David Bryant, guitarist Marty Ashby, bassists Dwayne Dolphin and Brian Stahurski and drummers Roger Humphries and Tom Wendt. Besides the Hefti tune, the pieces composed by Ashby (the jaunty swinger “Double Take”), Davis (the warmly harmonized “Choices”) and Gerry Niewood (the bop-triggered “Tootin’ for Toots”) are well worth revisiting, partly because they make the most of the double-barrel brass and partly because Bryant consistently shines.

Originally Published