Wild Bill Davison
Date Posted: 2011-09-30
By Eleanor Buck
(Ed note: We can't have an anniversary issue without a release featuring Wild Bill Davison, one of the original band that recorded for Jazzology Records in 1949. Here we have a session from the Manassas Festival. We are reproducing the original notes from the late Eleanor Buck.)
Chicago jazz came from a flamboyant crew of giants. They are men upon whom fame and publicity settled like a dew on the flowers. They were that charismatic bunch known as the Condon Mob and Wild Bill Davison was a prominent leader in the distinguished company of artists who wrote one of the most significant and exciting chapters in the history of that most American of American music--Jazz. Much has been written about Wild Bill Davison, his artistry, his humor and his escapades. I want to write about Bill (the man), with love, admiration, respect and sincere appreciation for the pleasure his music has given people all over the world for so many years. He has been applauded by fans from all walks of life-¶ royalty to children, and justly so, but Bill remains undaunted, giving his all, playing the music he loves as only he can play it¶ tender, emotional, exciting, rousing jazz. This CD is the sentimental, pensive, sweet and torchy side of Wild Bill.
The meeting of minds, feeling and sensitivity amongst the musicians on this session is very apparent as the playing of this record will prove. The beautiful interplay between the vibes, piano, bass and drums is an exciting background for Bill's tender and poignant interpretations of She's Funny That Way, Am I Blue, Our Love Is Here To Stay, Talk Of The Town and Everything Happens To Me. Gently swinging on the more up-tempo tunes: Cherry, Mean To Me, What's The Use, I've Got The World On A String and On The Alamo.
There have been many highs and lows during Bill's career, but he has always remained dedicated to jazz, preferring to occupy his time with his many other interests rather than bastardize his art. Bill is a very complex man, a deep thinker, a man of opinions. He is an extremely knowledgeable antique collector, has a keen interest in American history, builds model trains, makes lamps out of old horns and antiques furniture. He is an unequalled raconteur, fantastically witty, brash, exuberant, audacious and devilish (the original Peck's Bad Boy).
Wild Bill stories and quotes have been the topic of conversation amongst jazz people for years. He is a highly disciplined musician, practicing every day to keep his lip in shape, always on time for the gig impeccably groomed, a perfectionist giving his best. A few years ago at the Big Horn Jazz Festival in Chicago, some musicians sitting at our table wanted to know if Bill had lost anything over the years. I told them, "if he has, he didn't need it in the first place." Like the finest of wines and liqueurs that get better with 'age'¶ so does Bill.
Many musicians have been influenced by Bill, he is an innovator, many copy him, no one can equal him. Here is the man! here is my friend!; here is "Wild Bill" Davison! A Jazzman!! There's no one like him.
The other musicians on this CD are Don Reitan on piano, a brilliant young composer and arranger equally talented in all forms of music. Pianist with the Jazzology Jazz Band that so successfully toured the Dominican Republic and Haiti under the auspices of the State Department. He has recorded with Sammy Duncan and with Herman Foretich and the Atlanta Swing Quintet., Shortly after this recording session Don was in a tragic automobile accident and is now paralyzed from the waist down. We are all praying that his genius will not be stilled forever.
Some years ago Bill was playing in Atlanta with Tony Parenti and Kenny Mason played vibes on that date. Bill was very impressed with him and when we were discussing the type of session we all wanted this to be, Bill asked if Kenny was still in Atlanta and we immediately contacted him. Kenny has many years of
experience, both on vibes and drums, and has played with some of the best all over the country.
Jerry Rousseau on bass was the natural choice for the recording. Jerry has recorded for Jazzology, played and recorded in New Orleans and plays with perfect timing and taste. Joe "Spider" Ridgeway on drums has done numerous recordings for Jazzology. One of the finest drummers in the country 'til the butcher cut him down' at an early age. He played with some of the best musicians in the jazz field. Many tried to get him to join them but he preferred to remain in Atlanta. I also wanted to mention that sitting in the control room during this session was the loveliest side of Wild Bill- his wife, Anne, who is such an integral part of Bill, a dear friend, the envy of my husband and an inspiration to me.