Jon Davis – Moving Right Along (2015)

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Veteran jazz pianist Jon Davis issues only his third album overall, but he continues to quickly make up for a career that until recently lacked led dates. Moving Right Along (February 3, 2015, Posi-Tone Records) is his second in a row for Posi-Tone, following up on 2013’s flawless set One Up Front. Davis is again in his strongest setting, the venerable jazz trio, with Shinnosuke Takahasi returning on drums and Yasushi Nakamura taking over from Joris Teepe on double bass.

There’s much to like about i>Moving Right Along, which, firstly, showcases Jon Davis’ composing prowess that’s immediately found in the light, nimble swing of “Moving Right Along” where Davis’ solo shows superb rhythmic sense. “Under The Stairway” is a waltz put into a bluesy groove and again, Davis’ piano is full of harmonic ideas he rarely revisits as Takahasi’s drums are always pushing forward, not content to be a passive keeper of time.

As with One Up Front, there are a few recognizable covers, such as John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice.” Here, it’s an imaginative recasting of melody that Jon Davis updates by disassembling it and reassembling it as a groover; ever-shifting rhythms keeps the listener guessing. Frank Loesser’s “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” is also reharmonized with minor moods alternating with major ones, a virtuosic performance remindful of Chick Corea’s Now He Sings, Now He Sobs trio. The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” is an occasion for Davis to demonstrate his delicate handling of a pretty pop melody, and he later in the song shows off his ample blues chops.

During the mid-80’s Jon Davis was in a trio led by Brian Melvin that featured Jaco Pastorius on bass; it’s from that association with the bass giant that inspired Davis to feature two of Pastorius’ compositions. The opulent “Portrait of Tracy” is rendered elegantly into trio form as Davis and Nakamura (via a sensitive bass solo) get deep into to penetrating harmonics of the song. “Dania” is a more obscure Jaco tune, but one that was played by Melvin’s band. Davis takes this sophisticated big bang-styled tune and skillfully adapts it to the small combo.

After decades as a highly respected sideman, Jon Davis’ solo output continues to show these years of rich experience that only a long-time performer of his caliber can yield. Given that, it’s little wonder that Moving Right Along is another high quality trio date.

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