Jazz Institute of Chicago

Orbert Davis: Priority

Orbert Davis: Priority

Trumpeter Orbert Davis is nearly everywhere there is fine jazz in Chicago. On this, his second CD release, Davis shows us his great chops, fine original compositions and his interpretations of the music of Wayne Shorter and Bill Withers.

The core group of musicians is pianist Ryan Cohen (who contributes his fine composition Ask Me Nicely), bassist James Cammack (on furlough from his work with Ahmad Jamal) and Ernie Adams on drums. Bassist John Whitfield and vocalist Kurt Elling also contribute heavily to Davis' The Double Blues. Many others make appearances including Ari Brown, Tracy Kirk, Pat Ferreri, Bobbi Wilsyn, Zachary Brock, Steve Berry and Steve Eisen.

The program here represents modern jazz, based on bebop and '60s harmonic innovations, at its finest. Some tracks easily rival the work of many of the greatest names of the past and current jazz scene. Relentless is a modal swinger with a tough tenor solo from Brown, an awesome solo from Davis and a quick surprise reprise of the theme with a stinger. Block Party has the Latin/bossa groove that was the trademark of many Blue Note recordings, updated with a Davis solo that would make Freddie, Clifford and Blue proud. Miles Ahead is an ambitious reading of Gil Evans' definitive chart cut to three horns, Davis, Brown and Kirk. Although the big band is absent, this track works and Davis' flugelhorn sound is absolutely gorgeous.

E.T. (Edwin's Trombone) is a fine tribute to the late Edwin Williams with a great mix of modern harmony, blues and dynamics. We all miss Edwin's presence in many Chicago bands, now we have a fine tune to associate with him. Trombonist Tracy Kirk lives up to Edwin's legacy with his solo. Kurt Elling joins in on The Double Blues, a blues with a bridge, sets up Davis' solo with a little duet segue, adds vocal encouragement and his own fine scat solo. Vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn duets on Midnight in Bahia, a romantic bossa ballad that transports you musically to Brazil.

There are many Orbert Davis fans in the jazz community and this will undoubtedly win many more, well beyond Chicago. This is required listening for those interested in those who are shaping the current jazz scene in Chicago.-MV

Available from 3 Sixteen Records, P.O. Box 805330, Chicago, Il 60680.

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