Gettin’ It Done
Reviewed by JJ Wheeler
Soon to be moving into the ‘veteran’ category of American Jazz Musicians, trombonist Steve Davis has a fairly distinguished career behind him already. A graduate of the Hartt School’s Jackie McClean Institute way back in 1989, he’s gone on to work with an impressive list of jazz icons; initially as one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before stints with Jackie McClean, Chick Corea’s Origin, Horace Silver and Christian McBride Big Band.
It is with this background in mind that it is no surprise what you’re getting on this album; classic three-horn writing and a rhythm section that oozes swing and groove. The line-up is strong, particularly Larry Willis who seems to push things forward at just the right moments by switching from perfectly placed comping in ‘answer’ mode to little melodic phrases and interjections that suddenly ask questions of the soloist. Nat Reeves’ (bass) and Billy Williams’ (drums) time is impeccable, clean as a whistle and never over-bearing.
In every sense this is a modern-day version of a classic post-bop Blue Note record. There are a couple of blues tunes, a couple of groovers, the up-tempo swinger, a ballad and even a middle-of-the-road-good-time-pop-tune given the swing treatment (Sunny, which Georgie Fame took into the UK charts in the mid-’60s). You’ve got ‘Waheeeey!’ moments at every turn with a plethora of quotes from standards (plus a highly gratuitous quote of Sunny by trumpeter Josh Bruneau on the preceding track Steppin’ Easy). Plus of course there’s the lost ‘g’ in the title.
It’s all good fun and it’ll make you smile, tap your feet and possibly even dance. It’s good natured and has a sense of humour – something I think is often missing from music these days (the dangers of protecting our small but holy genre by heralding it as ‘high art’ all of the time). However, if I want to hear music like this, I’d rather stick on some Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver, Clifford Brown,etc. In no way am I suggesting people shouldn’t be playing and, indeed, writing this type of music; I love it! It’s just I don’t think it goes anywhere new on this record. I’m left feeling instantaneously satisfied, like the 5-minutes in which you eat a McDonalds, before realising that, actually, you’re very quickly hungry again.