Wild Bill Davis: The Everest Years (2005)
These 25 selections, many with Grady Tate on drums, George Clark on tenor sax, and a variety of accomplished guitarists, very much have the boisterous and happy spirits you'd associate with Louis Jordan's "jump blues" bands and Fats Waller (whose organ recordings are often forgotten). The sheer devil-may-care abandon of "Flying Home" and Dis Heah" are wonderful showcases of how Davis played the organ with symphonic richness and a fair amount of invention within the convention of R&B flavored, mainstream '50s jazz. And while the up-tempo numbers find him as rowdy as one would expect, I was pleased and surprised by the moody recasting of Monk's "'Round Midnight" and a ravishing Afro-Cuban original, "Cubato," that made me wish Davis and Santana had recorded a jam together.
Some of the material taken from the Broadway musical Milk and Honey is pretty slight, and even the funk Davis tries to inject into it goes nowhere. It would take perhaps a Don Byron to turn this smaltz into quasi-klezmer in order to salvage it. But apart from these few numbers, this is a winning collection for jazz organ fans, or for those who like jazz to party by.
Track Listing: The Madison Time (Part II); Blue Skies; Soft Winds; Organ Grinder's Swing; Flying Home; Independence Hora; I Will Follow You; That Was Yesterday; Milk & Honey; Let's Not Waste A Moment; Dis Heah; Angel Eyes; What's New; Like Young; Wenkie; 'Round Midnight; Blues for Joe; Cubato; and more.
Personnel: Wild Bill Davis: organ; George Clark, Maurice Simon: tenor sax; Grady Tate, Jo Jones: drums; Calvin Newborn, Bill Jennings, Les Spann: guitar; Milt Hilton: bass.
Record Label: Empire Musicwerks