Few trumpet or cornet players carry the Louis Armstrong or Bix Beiderbeich torch, let alone convey any sense of his influence. More it the pity, especially when listening to one of the last of Satchmo’s baton carriers, Wild Bill Davison, on this 4 cd 1 dvd box set from Storyville Records.
Along with Bobby Hackett, Wild Bill Davison was a true believer in the classic “hot” jazz created by Louis Armstrong. He never veered off path, and up to his dying day in 1989 he consistently swung with a two beat groove, never taking too long a solo and always playing as if it were the last dance on earth. Here, he’s caught in a variety of locations and settings, and each one is a peach.
Disc 1 has him playing cornet as well as singing with a Scandinavian team of Arne Bue Jensen/tb, Jorgen Svare/cl, Bent Jaedig/ts, Jorn Jensen/p, Lars Blach/g, Jens Solund/b and Knud Yskov Madsen/dr for a collection of studio recordings form 1975-77. Gustav Winckler adds some nostalgic vocals to “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” and “All That Meat and No Potatoes” while the band swings with a jaunt on pieces like “Christopher Columbus.” Davison’s horn is warm and clear throughout, fat and full during “Drifting Down the River” while Svare’s clarinet slithers on “ Runnin’ Wild.”
Disc 2 includes the rich and Sidney Bechet-inspired soprano sax of Steen Vig as well as Ole “Fessor” Lindgreen on trombone for recordings in Copenhagen from 73-77. Vig glistens on a richly evocative intro to “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” an d with Jesper Thilo’s tenor, the band digs deep on “Exactly Like You.” Lindgreen horn is palpably thick during “George” and “Someday You’lle Be Sorry,” and the rhythm team with drummer drummer Thorkild Moller lets the sparks fly on “Sweet Georgia Brown” while a drummerless team has Davison floating like a butterfly on “Memories of You.”
Disc 3 cover radio broadcasts from Eddie Condon’s club from 1951 and ’52. Davison is caught here with Cutty Cutshall/tb, Edmond Hall/cl, Ralph Sutton-Gene Schroeder/p, Eddie Condon/g Bob Casey/b and Don Lamond-Buzzy Drootin/dr for some traditional sounds straight down the line. Hall is in brilliant form on “The Sheik of Araby” and “Avalon” while Davison tackles “Dippermouth Blues” and “Memphis Blues” with fervency. As Condon said so well in comparing traditional jazz to bebop, “We didn’t flatten our fifths, we drank them.”
Disc 4 includes a full string section along with a rhythm team of Jorn Jensen/p, Lars Blach/g, Jens Solund/b and Hans Nymand/dr as well as guest appearances by Thio and L Indgreen. The moods are mellow and nostalgic for “Sugar,” “A Ghost of a Chance” and “Black Butterfly,” proving that the sounds form the Old World could also sound both modern and timeless.
The color dvd from 1962 has Wild Bill with Eddie Condon’s All Stars of Cutty Cutshall/tb, Peanuts Hucko/cl, Jonny Varro/p, Joe Williams/b and Buzzy Drootin/dr delivering 6 chestnuts. Condon gives intros and sets the tempo with each song, as Hucko produces a sizzling pair of solos on “Stealin’ Apples” and Davison is rich and vibrant on “Royal Garden Blues” and “Little Ben Blues.” The team closes with a “Muskrat Ramble” that would make Kid Ory proud.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a collection of songs that is more joyful than this one. No navel gazing, no mindless cacophony, no fusion, no confusion. Straight, no chaser.