"THE BASSIST" liner notes
HOMAGE TO DIVERSITY
This album is my humble attempt to pay homage to the continuum pursuit of diversity. In part, it is all tied
up with President Bill Clinton’s initiative on racism which demands a 24 hour a day focus, I have formed a
self-elected action group on the Wisconsin/ Madison University campus where I teach Euro-Classical and
Jazz Bass. The group’s name is Retention Action Project (R.A.P.). It’s main function and goals hinge heavily
around multicultural competency and community climate. We collaborate with former Vice Chancellor
Paul W. Barrows Office (Student Affairs). He holds the highest position ever by an Afro-American. Five
people that I work with closely on these issues are:
Seema Kapani “Diversity: a melodious tapestry, woven with ALL of our voices”.
Darlene Badal “Diversity is creation’s delight, the multi-faceted mirror of god;
reflected best in community, unified by the Golden Rule”.
Danielle McGuire “We must do more than celebrate diversity…we must embrace it”.
Hazel Symonette “Diversity’s Majestic Symphony: poised at the portals of powerful
promise and provocative possibility”.
Claudia Mary Burns “I think dialogue begins in the moment we realize our
connectedness to one another.”
1.Come Sunday/Warm Valley (D. Ellington)
I am reminded of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s recording of Come Sunday with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the mid fifties. This was a momentous DIVERSITY occasion of a religious and jazz performance. Basically one and the same. Warm Valley reminds me of a mothers warmth. An endless vessel of nourishing love. I was a very sickly child, but when my mother touched/rubbed my chest with those warm hands and Vicks Vapor Rub, I would wake up the next morning recovered from a severe chest cold. Of course there are other interpretations of what “Warm Valley” implies. John really used Come Sunday as an intro to Warm Valley. What an inventive pianist.
2. Simone (Frank Foster)
I have played this beautiful piece many times over the past 20 years as an accompanying bassist. Recently, I played the melody for the first time while practicing at home and said WOW! what a gem. It was made for the bass. I called Frank Foster to asked him what inspired him to write such a beautiful piece. He named it after a good friend from France. It is in three quarter meter. I could really play this melody over and over again.
3. Estate (Summer) (Bruno Martino)
I was attracted to this song by hearing Shirley Horn’s (vocalist) recording. When bowing the bass, I think of vocal sounds. After all, I earned my Doctorate degree from the University of Sarah Vaughan. The great flutist Frank Wess brought Estate to mind again as we performed it in New York..
4. A Flower is a Lovesome Thing (B. Strayhorn)
I really think of the fantastic saxophonist Johnny Hodges when performing this piece and Warm Valley. He made your heart melt while you fell in love again. Billy Strayhorn was one of the first out of the closet Gay persons in the 40’s. (Brave/Confident/High Self Esteem/Musical Genius.) He also wrote the famous tune “Lush Life”.
5. Eccles Sonata (Henry Eccles)
This is a very popular sonata that is in most classical bassist’s repertoire. Susumu (producer of this album) ask me to record it. Two days before the date I decided to DIVERSIFY the original melody. He was very happy hearing the CROSS-CULTURAL version. Call it 3rd stream or whatever, but to put a tag on it is limiting. I added an original introduction which was inspired by the dynamic movie score”The Red Violin”. I wish to call my next CD “The Red Bass Violin”. It is a great/happy experience working with Susumu. He is also a bassist. I liked his suggestion that the programming of tunes on the CD should follow the same order in which we recorded them.
6. Lift Every Voice and Sing (J. W. Johnson…R. R. Johnson)
(Afro-American National Anthem)
The Lord’s Prayer (Traditional?)
These two monumental pieces are dedicated to Mt.Zion Baptist Church. Rev.Dr.Terry Thomas is the pastor. My Return To Church. I give special thanks to Deacons Leon Bond, Percy Brown, Sr.,John Hobbins and Farrell Joshua for teaching me the Articles of faith, history and workings of the church. I give thanks to Eddie, Sally, Moreece and Nikitta Peterson who embraced me with family warmth. And fed me well. (I’ve left their house with many “doggie” bags). Moreece (age 13) sometimes goes to work with his mother Sally who works at a nursing home. He goes around hugging 80 years old residents…making them feel loved. DIVERSITY eliminates age discrimination. Nikitta (age 9) well, she is just a little sweetheart.
7.Go Down Moses (Traditional)
My father really loved ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and “Go Down Moses” He introduced me to his friends as “my son Richard, the musicianer”. I always corrected him by saying, “no Dad, the word is musician, not musicianer”. Many years later as I sought to grow in DIVERSITY, I found out that “musicianer” is the way they say it in the state of Kentucky which is where he was raised. The Dictionary of American Regional English by Fred Cassidy taught me to be careful of judging(speechisms) the way people talk. DIVERSITY…excepting differences in others.
8. Little Benny (Charlie Parker)
Charlie Parker maximized DIVERSITY during the great music revolutionary 1940’s period of jazz. Jazz is not a sub-standard music. He raised the self esteem of all black people who heard him. He and many other famous black musicians proved that we had our own Bachs, Haydns and Mozarts. Notice, I did not list Beethoven with them because he was black like me. Lost records obliterated his ethnicity.
9. Skylark (H. Carmichael/J. Mercer)
This piece was elected to feature John’s beautiful pianoism and chord interpretation. Simply beautiful. I have many pleasant memories of performances with John in Japan and feel that this CD seals our association.
10. C.C.Rider (Country Circuit Rambler)
(Traditional blues with no known author.)
This song was part of my south side of Chicago growing up. Standing on the outside of bar rooms peeping in at 12 years of age, I heard giants like T. Bone Walker, Memphis Minnie, Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters and hung out with Bo Diddley at a horse stable. Going to DuSable High School where music director Walter H. Dyett taught Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Dorothy Donegan, Gene(Jughead) Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan and many other greats was certainly a benefit too. C.C.Rider was formerly recorded by Lonnie Johnson, Ma Rainey, Mississippi John Hurt, Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, Laverne Baker, Elvis Presley and many others. Some other songs in my memory were (1) I Want a Big Fat Momma (Warm Valleys), (2) In The Dark in The Dark by Lil Green (Dark Valleys) (3)How Come My Dog Don’t Bark At You No Mo’ (Little Benny), (4) Jelly Jelly by Billy Eckstein (A Flower is a Lovesome Thing) and After Hours by Avery Parrish…A lot of these songs had sexual overtones. C.C.Rider was a rambling man.
NOTES ABOUT THE RECORDING ATMOSPHERE
Richard Davis: Acoustic String Bass/Vocal
John Hicks: Piano and Inspiration
Susumu Morikawa/artistic inspiration/This man is incredible and is also a fan of mine. What a comfort to record for him. His daughter Sonoka’s (6 yrs. of age) favorite piece on the CD is C.C.Rider. I have just conceived a great idea for another CD
Boesendorfer Piano…an added treat
Engineer NOTE: He and Susumu came to hear my bass sound previous to the recording
Photographer:Yasuhisa Yoneda…I hate to pose but he made it fun. I hope his wife has
recovered from an illness by now.
Swing Journal Person I liked his eye glasses
Restaurant down the street…Great Pasta. Thanks to Elise for finding it.
Translator…Thanks to a beautiful woman and friend Keiko Suzuki
Noel Valdes…Research on C.C.Rider
Seema My inspiration and teacher
Darlene My consoler
Danielle My young champion
Hazel My soft thunder
Claudia My mutuality
Paul W. Barrows The Chief
“all tunes are so beautiful and knock on my heart. I am sure your music take people to beautiful dreamy world”.
“this CD is absolutely wonderful…you know, the sound of the bass at times is so beautiful…sometimes lonely too…gosh, it gives me the chills…I love this CD.
“I had not ever before recognized the bass as a melodious instrument comparable to the violin in range and as mellow as the sound of the cello. I guess because of it’s versatility in range, it is more used in a supportive role of the harmony”.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”, Lila Watson.
The Retention Action Project (R.A.P.) accepts contributions for the betterment of Global Wide Diversity at 902 West Shore Drive, Madison WI 53715 U.S.A. Checks payable to Richard Davis Foundation. For more information on R.A.P. click here.
Buy the album here.