Phil Davison: Straight, Bent and Uncut (iTunes)

 |   |  1 min read

Phil Davison: Brazil Nuts
Phil Davison: Straight, Bent and Uncut (iTunes)

When Adolphe Sax invented the instruments in the mid 19th century which bear his name, he could hardly have predicted just what musical diversity this family of horns would encompass.

As an orchestral instrument it moved into dance bands, swing, allowed for the beautifully melodic tones of Lester Young, the furious experimentalism of Charlie Parker and the spiritual searching of John Coltrane. It is heard piercing the envelope in free jazz, playing the blues, giving drive to Fifties rhythm and blues as the forerunner of yakkety-sax rock'n'roll, in soul and funk bands, the austerity of ECM musicians like Jan Garbarek . . .

Dunedin-based saxophonist Davison explores the range of the instrument on this album for which the "uncut" refers to the fact it is all solo work, uncluttered by other instrumentation which allows him more freedom to shift emphasis and direction.

Solo sax is not as hard a call as it might seem, especially in these hands where melody is frequently to the fore, carrying the improvisations which reference blues standards (Blues Fallin' Down Like Rain, Goin' to be Rainin' Outside), New Orleans funk, the bebop standard Salt Peanuts (referenced then deconstructed and reinvented as Brazil Nuts Unsalted) and so on.

The space around the sound allows you to hear a brusque woody tone, sophisticated smootheness, a yearning, soulfulness . . .

With 15 pieces over 50 minutes nothing here outstays its welcome (the longest piece is the bluesy rumination Followed Her to the Station at five and a half minutes, the shortest the lovely miniature Buddy Bolden Said at 1.47) and yet within that time -- on three lovely old saxes, and one newer one -- Davison explores a lot of the language of the instrument on alto, tenor, soprano and baritone.

And has fun with it, as when he starts playing Sophisticated Lady and takes it elsewhere. The track is entitled Sophisticated Harry.

And in a very nice touch this album which feels real and present opens with the discreet sound of a needle being gently placed on vinyl.

From blues to reflective moods and through swing and funk, this is one to immerse yourself in. 

Phil Davison answers our Famous Elsewhere Jazz Questionnaire here

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Radical Invisibility: Radical Invisibility (577 Records/digital outlets)

Radical Invisibility: Radical Invisibility (577 Records/digital outlets)

Start with the side-long weNyamombe and Gomukomu weSimbi by this New York jazz quartet and you might think you've stumbled into a strange but beguiling ECM session where Miles Davis has teamed up... > Read more

Carter/Wilner/Toure/Ughi: New York United (577 Records/Southbound)

Carter/Wilner/Toure/Ughi: New York United (577 Records/Southbound)

They say when you get a dealer you can trust, someone who is reliable and knows what you need, then stick with them. So it is for me with Troy at Southbound Records in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . GLOOMY SUNDAY: Death by Hungarian music

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . GLOOMY SUNDAY: Death by Hungarian music

In small, conspiracy-theory pockets of popular culture there is the belief that some songs are poison, in the same way that theatrical types don’t refer openly to Shakespeare's Macbeth but... > Read more

THE LANEWAY 2017 LINE-UP: Who and what you need to know

THE LANEWAY 2017 LINE-UP: Who and what you need to know

The now-annual St Jerome Laneway's Festival has put itself about a bit, and next year drops into a new home once more. This time it will be at Albert Park n the centre of Auckland on Monday,... > Read more