Hearsay: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Dave, Daver, Davest

HearSay likes jazz — really. I’m not just saying that to seem cool (though I do admit I’ve descended on both the Black Dog Tavern and, during its jazz heyday, the Moon more for the sake of tying one on rather than grooving to “Cherokee” — for the 900th time). My affinity for most sorts of jazz — everything but early swing — probably has something to do with growing up idolizing guitar gods. HearSay probably wouldn’t have begun delving into Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, and Steve Laury if not for rockers like Jeff Beck and Yngwie Malmsteen, non-native guitarists influenced by and full of praise for six-string purveyors of the most American of all American music forms (save for rap). My love has been blossoming ever since. Yeah, there was that brief period when I dismissed jazz as bourgeois, but then I got a real job. Now gainfully employed, HearSay can gainfully appreciate our native musical tongue.
HearSay’s recently been appreciating the debut full-length from Dave and Daver, the informal jazz group — once composed chiefly of the titular Daves (drummer Karnes and sax-man Williams) and various sitter-inners — that used to hold it down every Wednesday night at the Moon and is now packing them in (not) every Wednesday at the Black Dog. With a formal line-up of the Daves plus bassist Jonathan Fisher and guitarist Sam Walker, Dave and Daver have marshaled their various improvisational skills into 12 original straight-ahead numbers that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Brubeck or MJQ 33-inch. No frills, all chills, Jazz Lines is a jazz recording that, while partial to the easy-goingness of the Jet Set Age, is loaded with enough musical muscle to fill Carnegie Hall. The best part: Unlike a lot of similar outfits ... well, there’s really a dearth nationwide in bona fide straight-ahead jazz groups. Most of the stuff you hear coming from the major labels or on KNTU/88.1-FM is the handiwork of a) one composer/instrumentalist flanked by kick-ass studio sidemen (Joey DeFrancesco, John Scofield, old-timer Maynard Ferguson), b) a pop diva masquerading as a jazz singer (Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole) or jazz singer masquerading as a pop starlet (Cassandra Wilson, Jane Monheit), c) a Jet-Set-y Medeski, Martin, and Wood rip-off (Soulive), or d) a too-cool-for-school academic (Brad Mehldau, Matthew Ship). You’d think straight-ahead is an anachronism!
Well, it kinda is. But that’s not the point. What matters is that here we have talented, highly trained jazzmen delivering straight-ahead, mostly in a contemporary way, one in which vibe and actual musicmaking get equal billing alongside technical prowess. Both elegant and eloquent, nocturnal and suffused with light, boppish and full of swing — Jazz Lines (even the title is cute, in a crotchety-old-man kinda way) is one of those jazz c.d.’s that is accessible enough for novices and adventurous enough for aficionados — like HearSay.
For more information, cruise to www.daveanddaver.com.

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