......She tells her stories with a disciplined personal passion, immediacy, and a mosaic of textures that can be so compelling, you can still hear her after the music stops. - - - - Nat Hentoff
NO WAYS TIRED (LINER NOTES)
In all the arts, the writers, painters, composers who have lasted and kept on resonating in our lives have their own story to tell. A personal, and therefore, original story. Charlie Parker put it best: "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man there's no boundary line to art."
Charlie Parker was speaking about jazz horn players, but his truth applies equally to jazz singers. What you hear in Deborah Davis is the sound - a signature sound - of her experiences, in and out of music. She is a long - distance runner who has riveted audiences throughout this country, Europe and Asia. And like Bird (Mr. Parker) said, she is not limited by any boundary or category of expression, being a poet, artist, actress, dancer, lyricist, as well as unmistakably a jazz singer.
To be recognized by other musicians, and by audiences, as an authentic jazz singer, you have to possess first of all your own sound. From her roots in gospel music, blues, and jazz, she tells her stories with a disciplined personal passion, immediacy, and a mosaic of textures that are so compelling, you can still hear her after the music stops.
To express yourself in jazz time, you have to move yourself and your listeners with a flowing pulse - a beat - that is the engine of jazz. As true original, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell put it: "jazz players and singers have a heart feeling and a rhythm in their systems that you can't budge. A rhythm you can't take away from them even if they were in a symphony organization." That heart feeling, that rhythm wave, courses throughout Deborah Davis' singing in this set - from the ballads to the up tempo swingers. And because that jazz time impels her improvising, she keeps surprising herself, as well as her listeners.
Deborah Davis knew what her calling in life would be when she was very young in her hometown of Dallas. At first, there being no record player in the house, and coming from a family with no musical background, she created her own style out of an irresistible desire to sing. She sang in church, in school shows, in party bands; and by the time she was in high school, the choir director, Robert Sanders, recognized her true vocation, and had her join his weekend jazz gigs.
Deborah earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree in vocal studies from North Texas State University - a testing ground for evolving jazz musicians that is known throughout the jazz world. Furthermore, being intent on learning all dimensions of her profession, she added an Associate Arts Degree in Recording Engineering at Cedar Valley College.
Since 1986, based in New York, she has performed with and impressive range of jazz masters, including Clark Terry, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Green, Christian McBride, Brian Blade, and Russell Malone; as well as appearing in such demanding clubs as the Blue Note, Birdland, The Village Vanguard, and Sweet Basil. Her annual tours of Europe and Asia have been received with admiring press notices. For example, in Japan's premier jazz publication, Swing Journal, she is listed among the best singers who have come to Japan, and is bracketed with Betty Carter and Chaka Kahn .
The title of this reverberating recording, No Ways Tired, is very much that of her own story, in sound and spirit. As she says," the title sums up my feelings about having been in this biz singing for 30+ years, booking myself all over the globe, hustling, paying my dues, not really becoming a major player in the game, and watching what this biz is becoming with the invention of the new jazz celebrities." Invention is the key word because many of these sudden celebrities are more craftily mechanical than fundamentally, irrepressibly individual. But Deborah is indeed in no ways tired, as you can hear so vividly and infectiously in this session. "Some might have given up at this point, she says. Many I know did. But when given a chance to record, even at out of pocket expenses, and all it took to save to do it, I'm still here, and still believing it was what I was put on the planet to do." Hearing the glory of that determination, and the powerful evidence of the truth of her very reason for being, assures that this recording will always be contemporary like the testaments of all the jazz storytellers who have lasted.
Accompanying her on this set, is a rhythm section - and front line - equal to her musicianship and spontaneity. Pianist James Weidman, like the other players, has a more impressive list of credits than I have space for here. They include five years with saxophonist Steve coleman and the Five Elements and the M-Base collective; nine years as accompanist for Abbey Lincoln, and two years with Cassandra Wilson. He's also pianist and musical director for Kevin mahogany.
Bassist Essiet, Essiet has performed with Abdulla Ibrahim Dollar Brand, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Sam Rivers, Kenny Barron, Ralph Peterson, and many other jazz originals - as he is too. He also leads his own group, IBO, a Nigerian jazz project.
On drums, Alvin Atkinson has toured through the United States and abroad with his own group, and has been featured in concert with a wide range of musicians - from Roy Hargrove to Barry Harris, Jimmy Heath, Branford Marsalis, and Wycliffe Gordon. He is noted for his ability to create harmony and melody through the drums, as in the music of Africa, Brazil, Cuba, and other countries where the rhythms of life and nature are an integral part of all music.
Soprano and tenor saxophonist Keith Loftis, (At The Mambo Inn, The Very Thought of You, and You Don't Know What Love Is), is a permanent member of the Frank Foster Loud Minority Big Band, tours with Ray Charles Orchestra, and has worked with Clark Terry, Joe Williams, and Benny Carter, and many other renowned musicians. He appears in a diversity of musical contexts throughout Europe and the Orient.
Trumpeter Kenyata Beasley, (At The Mambo Inn, Dearly Beloved) is an alumnus of the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Artists (whose alumni also include Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and Terence Blanchard. He has won a galaxy of awards, among them: the International Association of Jazz Educators Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship. Among the diverse artists he has recorded and performed with are: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ellis Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Lauren Hill, and Frank Foster.
Percussionist Daniel Sadownick (At The Mambo Inn) earned a Master's in Music Education at New York University. He has performed with Lionel Hampton , Nat Adderly, Dianne Reeves, Dewey Redman, Lonnie Smith, Steve Wilson and others. Daniel never limits himself to one genre and is now busy with a number of different projects including Steely Dan, Nnenna Freelon and a Saturday Night Live appearance with Jennifer Lopez.
The combination of these enlivening, multiply skilled musicians with a singer who is also indeed a musician (not all singers are) make "No Ways Tired" a celebration of the resilience of the life force that is jazz.
-- Nat Hentoff
REVIEWS: 5 stars Brian Kelly
I found out about Deborah Davis by accident but I am glad I did. You will not believe that this lady is still an indepedent artist. She may be the best unsigned talent I have ever heard. I honestly don\'t know anyone who sings better than her. While she is definitely a traditional style jazz vocalist she can,. without doing anyhting odd or unusual, somehow manage to sound fresh and original in ways that I have never heard anyone else be able to do. Her material covers everything from straight-ahead and jazz standards to a gospel-spiritual tune and everything in between. The difference being that when you hear her do a standard you will think that you are really hearing it for the first time and that you have never heard it sung any better. She\'s an as yet undiscovered National Treasure and this is one of my favorite recordings in years. Buy it, It\'s one of those rare recordings that come along every once in awhile that is just absolutely perfect.