Music with a personal meaning is Keith Davis’s forté. The compositions on his latest CD Still is a partial manuscript of the people who have touched his life, converted and narrated into musical form. Accompanied as a trio with bassist Ron Brendle and drummer Justin Watt, Still is expressive and tailored to reflect Davis’s influences and moments of great significance.
The samba rhythm of “Elis” jumps out at the listener as Davis and crew pay homage to the Brazilian singer Elis Regina. The jubilation of the drums and bouncy keys incite the listener to dance as Elis Regina’s music likely affected Davis to do. The upbeat tempo continues through “Taiji Camp” which was inspired by Davis’s experience at Taiji Camp led by Master Yang, Yang. The trio express themselves through improvised jetties that take the listener out to sea in a way along an aural jaunt of naturally fluid lines and melodic embellishments which color the tune with panoramic vestiges. There is a natural flow in the trio’s harmonic formations like in “Raja Numia” as the bass bows and retracts dotting the smooth progressions fostered by Davis’s keys. The number had been designed to be a mystery for the listener though the waves of crests and falls make for a comfy ride.
The strolling gait of “Tadjimon” has a hint of cool jazz swagger that gives the number character. Inspired by Davis’s oldest son Tadji, the composition has a vintage feel with a modern flicker. “Suzy’s Waltz” takes the recording into a tender mood harnessing a reflective aura depicted in the cascading lines of the keys. The album picks up the tempo in “Tadj’s Groove” delving into swing jazz style idioms in the keys and whipping drumbeats. Davis shows a flare for nostalgic bebop in “Lieb,” a track dedicated to keyboardist Dave Liebman then transitions into the looping lines and soft rotations of the keys along “New Beginning” and the torchlight glitter of “Chrysalis.”
Still is the first release from the Keith Davis Trio with all compositions written by Keith Davis. His talent for synchronizing his keys with the drums and bass developed by touring with such big bands as the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra is immaculate. Honing his skills as a live performer, composer, and college instructor have contributed to Davis’s artistry and abetted him to create a distinct style of composing improvisational music.
Keith Davis – piano, Ron Brendle – bass, and Justin Watt – drums
Lieb, New Beginning, Chrysalis, Elis, Taiji Camp, Raja Numia, Tadjimon, Suzy’s Waltz, Tadji’s Groove