The simultaneity of the issuance of this great horn session CD and its evocations of life and spirit in the wake of the loss of Charles Davis' true love (his wife Lori passed from cancer in 2012), as well my own meditations, now that I'm 60 and in the zone wherein one starts to grapple with questions of mortality, is an interesting intersection. A rather recalcitrantly confirmed bachelor, I've given a good deal of thought to the matter and am not sure what I'm to make of such things. I'm kinda crusty that way, but…to lose one's soulmate? Especially late in life, after having the joy and satisfaction of such accompaniment for so long? I can't even begin to imagine what that means. It staggers me. But there's more.
Cedar Walton was slated to be a member of this ensemble but also died before recording began, hence the cover of Walton's Cedar's Blues. That not enough, the memory of a close friend baritone saxist Davis greatly respected, singer/trumpeter Kenny Dorham, had passed away much too young in 1972, and this was still on his mind, all these years later, thus memorialized in KD. Charles certainly had his work cut out for him, not just on an artistic level but also an existential one. The presage of his balladic title cut, the tribute to Lori, however is contained in the take on Irving Berlin's What'll I Do?, a ravishing mixture of lament beside the love of life and beauty. Therein, I'm quite sure, is Davis' secret, that balancing of the sorrowful with the sweet. Life does not give us but that it also takes away, and we have to come to grips with that, treasuring the past.
The entirety of this straight ahead release is non-stop creativity and involvement not just with bygone times but also a here and now treading into a future that will not forget where it came from. The CD is an immersion in the era when jazz was striding in seven league boots, but with differences. Davis played with Billie Holiday, Ben Webster, Dinah Washington, and others, but keep this in mind as well: he was a member of the mind-blowing Sun Ra Arkestra, a band still eons ahead of its time, and he resided there for five LPs. That was a band wherein one had to be a daunting virtuoso, a prime exponent, or get left behind very very quickly. Davis more than earned his spot.
Walton must be smiling from ear to ear in Rick Germanson's pristine piano work throughout For the Love of Lori, especially in Cedar's Blues, and Lori herself has to be beaming that the paean to her is as hip as it is sweetly aching. Kenny, I know, is grooving behind his tribute, be-bop bad boy that he was, as it's a swinging affair on the mellow side but brimming with élan, with vivacity. Davis, though, is the mainstay and has lost none of his verve or chops, whether in jaunty quotations, the long elastic notes of Lori, or the even more fluidly boppy Blues. There are, then, many reasons to catch this disc, but the main one is that it's just damn good.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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