Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reverend Gary Davis Celebrated O Glory

In the nineties, Gene Rosenthal was especially active in making available his recordings (some previously unissued) on compact discs. One of these was a very interesting and valuable album by the Reverend Gary Davis. The following reviewed appeared in the DC Blues Calendar at the time and the October 1997 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 225). I likely received a review copy at the time.

Reverend Gary Davis’ O, Glory: The Apostolic Studio Session (Genes) is a valuable addition to the Genes’ Blues Vault Series, featuring one of the most extraordinary musicians of the Piedmont school of ragtime blues. After his conversion in the thirties, he would rarely perform or record secular lyrics, though few illustrate the commonality of blues and gospel as did Davis.

This album is particularly valuable in that it contains some rare examples of Davis with accompaniment, vocal chorus, tracks on which he plays piano and banjo, and a harmonica solo (Birmingham Special, a train imitation with spoken asides). Most of these recordings date from March 1969 for what would prove to be his last studio album. They are augmented by four recordings that Stefan Grossman recorded in 1964 and 1965.

His instrumental work is exemplary and, while I would not call these the greatest examples of his art, there are some typically spectacular moments, and the rare examples of his piano, banjo and harmonica which add to the album’s historical value.

Not from this CD, but here is the late musical legend in performance.

No comments: