Jazz bassist Mike Davis offers a truly unique and uniquely true record
Recorded in New Your, Fortunes and Hat-Tricks, Vol. 1 is an album featuring Mike Davis (double bass), Jacob Duncan (alto sax) and Jason Tiemann (drums) and songs which were spontaneously composed by the trio. After its official release on February 26, the album will be available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
Bassist, composer and producer Mike Davis grew up in Texas, and has lived in New York City since 1998. Davis studied jazz and classical performance and composition at the University of North Texas, and he has spent much of the last decade producing albums for rock/pop/country/folk artists in the NYC area. He is now shifting his musical focus back to his own writing and performing.
There were two compositional concepts employed on the album, offered only digitally through CDBaby. The first is one which Davis calls Fortunes. He has collected hundreds of fortunes from fortune cookies over many years. Each member is given a small pile of them. They take turns drawing them. The ‘player’ who draws a fortune reads it aloud and then begins the piece. There is no discussion whatsoever about style, tempo, key, mood. They just use the fortune as a jumping off point and as an evocative title. They listen to each other for the development of themes. Truly the only rules are to listen and compose.
Mike Davis uses the word ‘compose’ to suggest that they are not just improvising aimlessly on their instruments, but that they are open to discovering and playing a specific role within each spontaneous composition in order to inst rumentally evoke the feeling of the title. Whether they are successful is totally subjective. They never listened back to anything in the studio. There was no point. Each title is discarded forever once performed live or in the studio.
The second concept employed the concept of Hat-Tricks. Each player writes some sort of brief instruction for another player on a slip of paper. The instruction can be abstract, musically specific, anything at all. Before each piece, each player draws a slip and reads the instruction to himself. The piece begins when each player agrees that they understand their own instruction, but they do not discuss or reveal them to the others. The resulting piece is a collaborative effort where each player is bound only by his interpretation of the brief instruction he drew. Once again, the only rules are to listen and compose.
The track listing includes such titles as “It Is a Silly Fish That Is Caught Twice With the Same Bait” and “It Is Worth Doing Every Task, However Simple, With Care.” These spontaneous melodies inpire and stimulate you to ponder these adages … in a Zen-like way. Thus, listen closely to their music because when you que up track four, “You May Find Your Horizons Suddenly Broadened.”
The trio also show faceitious wit when they jam up “You Will Receive Some High Prize or Award” and “Now Is the Time to Try Something New.” And perhaps “You Have an Active Mind and a Keen Imagination” or “Luck Is Coming Your Way” are meant to be one’s astrological horoscope for the day. Closing with their final word of musical advice “Good Sense is the Master of Human Life,” I suddenly had a craving for Chinese food. May this project bring them plenty of good fortune.