Bar code: 8427328421287
"Innocence of Youth" is a deeply personal statement. The album, a dynamic, engaging trio recording that teams him with bassist Brandon Owens and drummer E.J. Strickland, fully demonstrates his remarkable artistry.
Comprising seven originals along with a tune each by Harrell, Miles Davis and Xavier's younger brother, drummer-composer Quincy Davis, this album spans the range of modern jazzfrom post-bop to open playingand reveals how much Davis has developed since his last studio recording.
Remember the great groups in jazz who use their musical instruments like an uncharted form of speech, using rhythm and fortissimo movements to speak to each other instead of catering to an audience? With Innocence of Youth, the Xavier Davis Trio teaches a lesson in "sayin' somethin'" with music. What do they say? How about this: listen. Or, don't interrupt. From the classical music influences that open the first track, "The Message," to the bouncing cadence of the humorously-titled "Milk With a Koolaid Chaser," this is that rare mix of the alive and the controlled.
The assembling of group leader Xavier Davis on piano, Brandon Owens on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums produces over an hour of truly good music that has a freedom of exploration prominent in the finest contemporary artists. These guys all shine. There is passion and feeling in "Bell," in which the group riddles hints of "cool jazz" throughout a rush of Strickland's vibrant drumming (keep an eye on this guy), Davis's complex piano playing and Owens's understated bass backbone, and, like many takes, the group brings that energy down to a calm purr in closing notes. Much of the work here is original, too, and the group takes work like Miles Davis's "Milestones" injects their own flavor into it. As a leader, Davis has hints of Dave Grusin and Vince Guaraldi; indeed, bits of the songs here could be played against those old "Peanuts" cartoons - and that's high praise.
As the title (and final track name) of the album suggests, there's room for humor to some of the tunes, too, including "Tall Struttin', in which the simplicity of the beat and note choices imprints a grin on your face. "Untamed Land" starts off pretty tame, but it turns out to be a wicked joke by the trio when the piano, drums and bass cut loose, sending up how tame indeed contemporary jazz can be - and how exciting when it jumps around and dances.
Keep talking, boys.
Paul West -All About Jazz
Nacido en 1971, Xavier Davis Sorprende por la madurez de sus criterios. Con admirable sobriedad de medios, rehuyendo cualquier recurso ajeno a sus planteamientos, se centra en articular un programa de gran coherencia, constituido por siete composiciones propias y tres ajenas. Indaga desde dentro el material temático con minuciosidad exhaustiva, sin emprender vuelos armónicas que lo aparten del núcleo de su exploración, manteniendo siempre la cohesión con la estructure original. En esto, como en otros rasgos (uso frecuente de figures rítmico-armónicas repetitivas en la mano izquierda, acentuación basada en la pulsación regularmente reiterada de motas de registro grave, afiliación a un lenguaje posbop asentado sobre una sólida base de Blues), recuerda al Mulgrew Miller de las discos en trío (compárese la versión del tema Milestones con al de Miller Keys to the City). Por encima de los rasgos particulares y la mayor o menor calidad de cada pieza, el disco logra un profundo sentido unitario que nos hace percibirlo como obra integral plenamente lograda.
José Armenta -Más Jazz (Invierno, 2002)
"Xavier Davis shines in a trio setting on his sophomore release, backed by bassist Brandon Owens and drummer E.J. Strickland. Unlike the pianist's 1999 debut, this outing emphasizes original compositions, including two contrasting waltzes ("The Message," "Untamed Land") and two blues-based tunes ("Milk With a Koolaid Chaser," "Tall Struttin'"). Davis also honors his employer, Tom Harrell, with a loving version of the trumpeter's "Bell." He employs subtle reharmonizations on the bop classic "Milestones," then heightens the challenge by soloing over the new changes, not the original ones. In addition, Davis includes a composition by his brother, the drummer Quincy Davis, who plays with Harrell as well. By the time Davis gets to the closing title track, he's overflowing with inspiration, slyly quoting Joe Henderson's "Caribbean Fire Dance" on the rambunctious outro. A fine, swinging statement, full of hard bop intensity and melodic eloquence."
David R. Adler -All Music Guide
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