October 2006

Ron Davis Quintet — Sayonara Concert
October 26, 2006 Al Green TheatreToronto
There's Eclectic, And There's Eclectic
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert
Pianist Ron Davis works from a background largely in classical music, but you wouldn't know it, because of his aware jazz playing.

When his quintet energized his composition, "Sergei's Shuffle" (based on a sonata by Sergei Prokofiev), we knew we'd have a truly swinging time and not sit through a music lesson.

But as Ron plays the piano — both hands outspread — you could hear the internalized echoes and sounds and rhythms of the admirable stride piano players like Willie The Lion Smith, Duke Ellington, and yes, Thelonious Monk. It was tradition you were hearing.

Overall, the beat was a smooth and even floating Count Basie beat, and credit for this goes to the teamwork of drummer Ted Warren who casually sat back in "Sergei's Shuffle", clicking rim shots on beat '8', while bassist Mike Downes' solid bass line kept it all in line, and the two horn players soloed with taste and emotion.

Ron Davis

Sasha Boychouk's clarinet playing didn't over-Klezmerize anything in a Davis arrangement of a Rachmaninoff theme; nor did Boychouk interpret the piece like a 'Jazz at the Classics' night out. Like the rest of the musicians, he was playing the music, and not dispensing easily forgotten stylizations.

Later on, Richard Underhill's measured alto blues playing on his tune, "Blues for Suze", moved into speech-like duetting with Boychouk's tenor and then climaxed dramatically into a moment of keening 'free' playing between these two contrasting horn players.

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" revealed Davis's fondness for pop music in the form of a comfortable medium swing. Driving lines of sound poured out from Richard Underhill's high velocity alto. Boychouk's tenor sax and its shifting sheets of sound reminded us of John Coltrane. Ron Davis really shone when he played solo piano in the manner of Art Tatum, meaning two-handed virtuoso piano playing where the left hand maintains a level, steady rhythm — no matter how fast — and the right hand engages in new melodies and angular fantasies.

Ron further paid direct homage to Duke Ellington as a great American composer when he gave "Rockin' In Rhythm" the royal treatment in a solo piano spot.

Of course, a lot of the evening's enjoyment also resulted from the varied and changing instrumental combinations. The piano trio, the quintet, solo piano, the duet, and the quartet format, showed off the musicians to maximum advantage.

This 'Sayonara' Concert was Ron's way of saying 'goodbye' before he travels to Japan next week with Mike Downes and Ted Warren for 10 weeks of performing and studying under an Uchida Fellowship from the Japan Foundation.

Ron, have a good time.

We had a good time.

Mike Downes

Ron Davis Quintet
Ron Davis – piano
Sasha Boychouk – tenor sax and clarinet
Richard Underhill – alto sax
Mike Downes – acoustic bass
Ted Warren – drums


> A pre-concert interview with Ron Davis
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006