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Wild Bill Davison: The Jazz Giants

A new CD reissue of the 1968 inaugural release from Canada-based Sackville Records, The Jazz Giants is a collection of standards socked home with style and consummate professionalism by a hard-driving team of veterans. The band, recorded only this once, was assembled for a stand at Toronto’s celebrated Colonial Tavern, but judging by the effortlessly intuitive groove they create, one could easily believe they’d been gigging together for decades.

Cornetist Wild Bill Davison, a longtime fixture in the Eddie Condon Orchestra, is the name above the title here, and his sharp yet muscular tone cuts through the proceedings like a lighthouse beacon. He wrings a defiant pathos from the Waller/Razaf chestnut “Black and Blue” (featured in both its original-release version and a previously unreleased alternate take), and on “I Found a New Baby,” he growls and cries with titanic force. Fellow Condon vet Herb Hall’s bouncy clarinet gives the music an understated ebullience, and he eases forth gorgeous low-register tones on “Dardanella.” Trombonist Benny Morton is a supple component of the sonic mix, while his solo on “I Would Do Anything for You” leaves a little bluesy gravy under your fingernails.

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