Larry Davis – Funny Stuff (1982)

FrontCover1.jpgLarry Davis (December 4, 1936 – April 19, 1994) was an American electric Texas blues and soul blues musician. He is best known for co-writing the song “Texas Flood”, later recorded to greater commercial success by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Davis was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was raised in England, Arkansas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. He swapped playing the drums to learn to play the bass guitar. In the mid-1950s, he had a working partnership with Fenton Robinson, and following the recommendation of Bobby Bland was given a recording contract by Duke Records. Davis had three singles released, which included “Texas Flood” and “Angels in Houston”. Thereafter, he had limited opportunity in the recording studio. He resided in St. Louis, Missouri, for a while, and played bass in Albert King’s group. He also learned to play the guitar at this time; the guitar on Davis’s recording of “Texas Flood” was by played by Robinson.

Several single releases on the Virgo and Kent labels followed, but in 1972 a motorcycle accident temporarily paralyzed Davis’s left side. He returned a decade later with an album released by Rooster Blues, Funny Stuff, produced by Oliver Sain. He won four W. C. Handy Awards in 1982, but a decade later he was known only to blues specialists.[3] His 1987 Pulsar LP, I Ain’t Beggin’ Nobody, was difficult even for blues enthusiasts to locate.

LarryDavis01In 1992, Bullseye Blues issued another album, Sooner or Later, highlighting his booming vocals and guitar playing influenced by Albert King.

Davis died of cancer in April 1994, at the age of 57. (by wikipedia)

 

Larry Davis didn’t record all that often, but when he did, he certainly made it count. That’s the case with this fine St. Louis recording. Produced by Oliver Sain (who handled all sax work) and featuring Billy Gayles on drums and pianist Johnnie Johnson, the set is a ringing endorsement of Davis’s slashing, tremolo-enriched guitar and booming vocals. (Bill Dahl)

Larry Davis grew up in Arkansas, working with Fenton Robinson in the mid-50s. He started recording for Duke in 1958 with “Texas Flood” (the original version by the way – and likely still the best.) He signed to Duke at the recommendation of Bobby Bland. Larry LarryDavis02recorded sporadically over the years and passed away in 1994.

Davis was an extraordinary talent. He had a tremendous voice, with a soft vibrato. He sang in the B.B. King, Little Joe Blue, Bobby Bland style. His biting single-not guitar work could be placed somewhere between the sounds of B.B. King and Son Seals. He had more edge in his playing than King, but it wasn’t as harsh as Seals. “Funny Stuff” was originally released in 1982, and was re-released on CD by Rooster Blues in 2001. This review is based on the 2001 version of the album. “Funny Stuff” is basically Larry Davis’ St. Louis album. All of the musicians on the album were St. Louis stalwarts. The cast of characters was: Oliver Sain on piano, organ and all saxes; Phil Westmoreland on guitar; Johnnie Johnson on piano; Billy Gayles on drums; Jimmy Hinds on bass and drums; Eugene Johnson on bass; and Don Smith on drums. The album has all the features of the St. Louis blues sounds, with a combination of raw emotion mixed with Uptown sensibilities. (East Side Slim, stlblues.net)

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Personnel:
Larry Davis (guitar, vocals)
Billy Gayles (drums on 03., 05., 09. + 10.)
Jimmy Hint (bass on 03., 05., 08. – 10., drums on 01., 06. – 08.)
Eugene Johnson (bass on 02. + 07.)
Johnnie Johnson (piano on 02., 04., 07. + 10.)
Oliver Sain (saxophone on 02. – 04., 07. – 09., organ, piano)
Don Smith (drums on 02.)
Phil Westmoreland (guitar, bass on 01., 04. + 06.)

on 05:
Johnny Johnson (piano on right channel)
Oliver Sain (piano – left channel)

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Tracklist:
01. Funny Stuff (Sain) 3.40
02. Teardrops (Davis) 6.25
03. Next Time You See Me (Forest/Harvey) 3.36
04. Worried Dream (B.B.King) 5.02
05. Totsy (Davis) 3.07
06. Since I Been Loving You (Sain) 3.40
07. That Will Never Do (Campbell/Lyons) 3.06
08. Walk Out Like A Lady (Smith) 4.01
09. Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em & Forget ‘Em (Jackson) 4.07
10. Got To Be Some Changes Made (A.King) 4.12

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Keith Jarrett – The Melody At Night, With You (1999)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Melody at Night, with You is a solo album by American pianist Keith Jarrett recorded at his home studio in 1998 and released on the ECM label in 1999. It was recorded during his bout with chronic fatigue syndrome and was dedicated to Jarrett’s second and then-wife, Rose Anne: “For Rose Anne, who heard the music, then gave it back to me”.

In an interview in Time magazine in November 1999, he explained ″I started taping it in December 1997, as a Christmas present for my wife. I’d just had my Hamburg Steinway overhauled and wanted to try it out, and I have my studio right next to the house, so if I woke up and had a half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few minutes. I was too fatigued to do more. Then something started to click with the mike placement, the new action of the instrument,… I could play so soft,… and the internal dynamics of the melodies… of the songs… It was one of those little miracles that you have to be ready for, though part of it was that I just didn’t have the energy to be clever.″

The album contains eight jazz standards, two traditional songs, and, uncharacteristically for Jarrett, only one improvisation (“Meditation”, the second half of track six).

The album was very successful commercially, becoming one of the best-selling jazz instrumental albums of the 2000s, and winning a number of awards; The second track, “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)”, was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo.

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The critical reception was more mixed, however, with some critics praising its intimacy, while others criticized its simplicity. On the negative side, the Allmusic review by Richard S. Ginell awarded the album 2½ stars (out of 5) and states, “these performances lack color, contrast and life; and while you pull for Jarrett to summon the energy to make music again, the results are touching for awhile [sic] but soon pall”. On the positive side, it was ranked the #2 Jazz album in the Down Beat “Critics Poll 2000”, and Entertainment Weekly rated it an “A”. (by wikipedia)

Tender is the night on what is, perhaps, Keith Jarrett’s most intimate album. It is comprised of solo piano renderings of jazz ballads and folk songs, recorded at home and played with unmistakable affection. Jarrett dispenses with the jazz soloist’s conventional emphasis on dexterity, the ‘clever’ phrase, the virtuosic sleight-of-hand. Instead he strips these songs to their melodic essence and, gently, lays bare their emotional core. (press release)

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Personnel:
Keith Jarrett (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. I Loves You, Porgy (Gershwin/Heyward) 5.46
02. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) (Ellington/Webster) 7.07
03. Don’t Ever Leave Me (Hammerstein II/Kern) 2.43
04. Someone To Watch Over Me (Gershwin) 5.04
05. My Wild Irish Rose (Traditional) 5.20
06. Blame It On My Youth/Meditation (Heyman/Levant/Jarrett) 7.15
07. Something To Remember You By (Dietz/Schwartz) 7.12
08. Be My Love (Brodszky/Cahn) 5.37
09. Shenandoah (Traditional) 5.49
10. I’m Through With Love (Kahn/Livingston/Malneck) 2.50

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