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Mild Bill Davison

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  • ROBERT R. CALDER
    to play on the title of an LP -- Bill was definitely an original, wherever he came from, and to judge from some reports also a man prey to the furies. From
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2012
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      to play on the title of an LP --
      Bill was definitely an original, wherever he came from, and to judge from some reports also a man prey to the furies. From what I know of some people who say the sort of abusive things he is recorded as having come out with -- just now and then -- concerning some individuals deserving of respect, including ostensively racist remarks, these can often be perverse and even the opposite of what the same individual would come out with except under the burden of an extremely black mood.  
      I've seen him described as an incredible hypocrite on the basis of taking literally some things he said, and some examples of apparently extreme rudeness, or nastiness, as if they meant other than he felt incredibly bad. So bad even the music can't work for him.

      One thing which has always impressed me is that he was never half-hearted. Sentimental stuff he could play better than almost anybody, he had a sense of beauty and a wonderful astringency which made Wild Bill with strings a more decent prospect than the average with strings set. I don't like them as a rule, but Bill offsets the emotional cheapness of the average lush context such as he was given. As I recall, Tyree Glenn also had a way of doing something nicely at odds with the singing string section.

      Humphrey Lyttelton was a serious cornetist, who often enough spoke of what was distinctive of the cornet, and deplored the un-cornet playing of some people who tried to make music on that specific horn. In forty years of commenting on records he was playing on air, I never heard Humph say a word against Bill's appreciation of the qualities specific to the cornet, even when referring to the solo on an "Aunt Hagar's Blues" he came back to as an old friend. "Tearing up a tent" was Humph's phrase for what Bill did.

      The rips and rasps surely relied on something of Bix's harmonic awareness.

      I liked his line about what would happen if he lived long enough to be no longer able to play cornet. By then he would have grown his hair long and learned banjolele, and would be able to perform as the oldest hillbilly still going. "When I think what I've drunk, during prohibition, why am I still here?" he also asked, taking the bottle from his lips in the same film.

      There's also the voice recording used on Bechet radio broadcasts, being in Paris and hearing Sidney was ill, and going to the hospital to find Bechet was already too far gone. He sounded the very opposite of the horn which stood up with power matching Bechet on those BlueNote recordings. The second cornet player after Louis Armstrong not to have been scared into reticence by Sidney.

      Regardless of sort of complexity and virtuosity represented by Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, there was a lot that wasn't simple about Bill Davison's music, And there have been a lot of musicians distinguished in other respects who couldn't manage the simple and direct like Bill.  To paraphrase Albert McCarthy, he wasn't one of the great, but....


      Robert R. Calder

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • ALAN BOND
      A lot of similar things were said about Ruby Braff and I recall an anecdote which had him saying to Ruby why don t you try eating some o them chips you ve
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 2012
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        A lot of similar things were said about Ruby Braff and I recall an anecdote which had him saying to Ruby "why don't you try eating some o' them chips you've got on your shoulder". My personal experience of Ruby was that he was approachable but not effusive but he was always appreciative of favourable feedback, and said so. You can only speak as you find. Just let the music speak.

        TTFN - 007



        ________________________________
        From: ROBERT R. CALDER <serapion@...>
        To: "RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com" <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, 1 March 2012, 16:14
        Subject: [RedHotJazz] Mild Bill Davison

        to play on the title of an LP --
        Bill was definitely an original, wherever he came from, and to judge from some reports also a man prey to the furies. From what I know of some people who say the sort of abusive things he is recorded as having come out with -- just now and then -- concerning some individuals deserving of respect, including ostensively racist remarks, these can often be perverse and even the opposite of what the same individual would come out with except under the burden of an extremely black mood.  
        I've seen him described as an incredible hypocrite on the basis of taking literally some things he said, and some examples of apparently extreme rudeness, or nastiness, as if they meant other than he felt incredibly bad. So bad even the music can't work for him.

        One thing which has always impressed me is that he was never half-hearted. Sentimental stuff he could play better than almost anybody, he had a sense of beauty and a wonderful astringency which made Wild Bill with strings a more decent prospect than the average with strings set. I don't like them as a rule, but Bill offsets the emotional cheapness of the average lush context such as he was given. As I recall, Tyree Glenn also had a way of doing something nicely at odds with the singing string section.

        Humphrey Lyttelton was a serious cornetist, who often enough spoke of what was distinctive of the cornet, and deplored the un-cornet playing of some people who tried to make music on that specific horn. In forty years of commenting on records he was playing on air, I never heard Humph say a word against Bill's appreciation of the qualities specific to the cornet, even when referring to the solo on an "Aunt Hagar's Blues" he came back to as an old friend. "Tearing up a tent" was Humph's phrase for what Bill did.

        The rips and rasps surely relied on something of Bix's harmonic awareness.

        I liked his line about what would happen if he lived long enough to be no longer able to play cornet. By then he would have grown his hair long and learned banjolele, and would be able to perform as the oldest hillbilly still going. "When I think what I've drunk, during prohibition, why am I still here?" he also asked, taking the bottle from his lips in the same film.

        There's also the voice recording used on Bechet radio broadcasts, being in Paris and hearing Sidney was ill, and going to the hospital to find Bechet was already too far gone. He sounded the very opposite of the horn which stood up with power matching Bechet on those BlueNote recordings. The second cornet player after Louis Armstrong not to have been scared into reticence by Sidney.

        Regardless of sort of complexity and virtuosity represented by Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, there was a lot that wasn't simple about Bill Davison's music, And there have been a lot of musicians distinguished in other respects who couldn't manage the simple and direct like Bill.  To paraphrase Albert McCarthy, he wasn't one of the great, but....


        Robert R. Calder

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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