Elvin Jones and Richard Davis
While most of the landmark jazz albums have been reissued by various labels, many great, but not as well known, recordings remain out of print. Impulse has been among the most diligent of the jazz labels in the effort to re-release hard to find titles. Thankfully, Heavy Sounds , Elvin Jones’ and Richard Davis’ 1967 recording session, is one of them.
Elvin Jones and Richard Davis prove that they are capable of making music that is interesting for it’s rhythmic and melodic sophistication, while remembering that music should be fun to listen to. Too often, musicians who are praised for their roles in other people’s bands can’t seem to get their own careers off the ground. Jones and Davis, who are most well known for their participation in the groups of John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, respectively, have the skills and the passion to stay out of this trap.
On this recording, Jones and Davis are accompanied by saxophonist Frank Foster and pianist Billy Greene. Foster and Greene give good performances, but are lacking in stylistic identity. In jazz, this can be unforgivable, but on this recording, it works well, as the focus is on Jones and Davis. Jones’ thunderous drumming is present mostly on the first half of the album, particularly “Raunchy Rita,” the album’s opener. He lets the volume simmer, without losing intensity, for the second half. Mallets are his chosen tool to support Davis’ lengthy excursion into (and far away from) the Gershwin standard “Summertime.” As the title suggests, on “Elvin’s Guitar Blues,” Jones picks some country blues on guitar. As Jones puts down the guitar and grabs the brushes, Frank Foster turns in his best solo, a gentle, understated variation of the melody which moves the song beautifully.
Richard Davis shines throughout this recording. His bass playing adds color to the music with tasteful embellishments, while giving the soloist a solid foundation. This is not a bassist who is content with typical walking basslines. Davis is a musician with a clearly progressive musical vision.
Heavy Sounds is a brilliant recording which stands proudly among Impulse’s excellent catalog. It’s release offers hope that many more dusty gems are patiently awaiting their turn for re-release.
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