The Art of the Melody

An­gela Davis Nicholas Records ★★★ ✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

FROM the bur­geon­ing num­bers of Aus­tralian jazz play­ers based in New York comes a de­but al­bum from 27-year-old alto sax­o­phon­ist An­gela Davis, from Toowoomba, Queens­land. Bassist Linda Oh and drum­mer Ra­jiv Jayaweera are also from Aus­tralia, with pi­anist Chris Ziemba the only Amer­i­can on this record­ing. The ti­tle is fit­ting, since the col­lec­tion is melodic in con­tent and im­pro­vi­sa­tional style. Davis, a stu­dent of Lee Konitz, has a beau­ti­fully el­e­gant, hon­eyed alto tone, rem­i­nis­cent of Paul Des­mond. Three of the nine tracks are orig­i­nals; the oth­ers are var­ied, from the Scot­tish tra­di­tional An­nie Lau­rie to the grace­fully in­ter­preted bal­lad Crazy She Calls Me and Tom Waits’s Martha — all are tunes of strong, emo­tive melodies. The opener, 41. St Nick, is a quick post-bop theme started by pi­ano and alto in unison be­fore the alto so­los with just bass and drums, trav­el­ling smartly in a sup­port­ive groove. Af­ter a short pi­ano and bass in­tro plus the theme from alto, the 1976 Boz Scaggs song We’re All

Alone evolves into imag­i­na­tively flow­ing pi­ano from Ziemba, a Juil­liard grad­u­ate, who in­jects a swing­ing feel into his solo, fol­lowed by Davis’s lyri­cal take on the piece with just pi­ano ac­com­pa­ni­ment. Oh’s strong bass in­tro­duces the orig­i­nal Con­sci­en­tia, con­tin­u­ing to move and pro­pel un­der alto and pi­ano so­los embellished by Jayaweera’s soft brushes. This is not avant-garde work but it’s a well-played tes­ta­ment to melody with the ghost of Des­mond hov­er­ing through­out.

John McBeath

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