O.C. Davis Trio

The Dragon's Den

November 21, 2004

Drummer O.C. Davis(also of The Rob Wagner Trio) debuted his own modern jazz trio Sunday night at The Dragon's Den. The trio deviated between hard-bop, fast swingin' numbers and slower, sensual pieces that accentuated the sweet sound of the traditional jazz guitar and the ride cymbal over the harshness of the snare. Actually, for all of the set, guitarist Eric Slaughter's impressive progressions dominated the sound, and save for measured drum breaks built into the songs, Davis was a background player. Slaughter was so in front of the music that many pieces of songs sounded like guitar solos when they weren't. I was impressed with the technical proficiency of a drum solo that started one of the songs, but Davis rarely got to flow around the set and get loud like he does every Monday night at d.b.a. with Wagner. It was a testament to his professionalism, though. When Slaughter's amp blew and bassist Peter Harris was forced to give up his and go acoustic, Davis properly laid back and played at the proper low amplitude. The way he alternated polyrhythms between cymbals and drums showed his suave nature. This point was when bassist Peter Harris(also of the John Gros band) really shone. It was like the difference between Coke and Diet Coke. It's so rare to hear an acoustic upright bass in a performance anymore, but Harris' sounded pure and lovely. He played it subtle, but worked it like a mutha, at the same time.

The trio played modern standards and covers by Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, but no matter how hard things got, it all sounded traditional because of Slaughter's guitar sound. He didn't use any effects, so there was a definite sacharine bubble around every song. His guitar work was pleasant in that it was what my brain told me I was supposed to recognize as good, and it was, but it wasn't necessarily soulful. I wasn't feeling it. There was no groove to his playing. Maybe it was the shining color of his guitar sound. Maybe it was the fact that the band was basically playing to two people the whole set. I just wasn't feeling the energy from Slaughter. And since Slaughter was playing the stand-out instrument, the set came out a little flat.

I really appreciated their musicianship, though. When they were on, I was stomping my foot and feeling good. Davis and Harris have potential to push this band far, so go out and support the O.C. Davis Trio. As time goes on, chances are that they'll get a bigger crowd and fans they can feed off of.

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