New York-born pianist Jon Davis, longtime member of the band of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, releases his third album for the Posi-Tone label called “Changes Over Time”. And he opens his set with an ebullient interpretation of the Mal Waldron classic “Soul Eyes” infusing it with panache and ease.
His band mates are bassist Ugonna Okegwo, longtime member of Tom Harrell’s band, and drummer Jochen Rueckert, both excelling in their roles as accompanists and supporting the leader in swinging, flexible style, as on the original “Just For Fun” which is a bright and shining piece with grooving motives and harmonically adept inklings. The trio moves slowly and elegantly on the Pastorius composition “Las Olas”, full of beautiful changes and colors. A great piece. And the title track is just that, a joyful and witty excursion into time changes, a sizzling piece that comes right out of the funky groove box with an infectious drum solo by Jochen.
Jon, who has played with the likes of Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, and Milt Jackson, doesn’t shy away from The Beatles, too. The solo piano piece shows him in plaintive, restrained mood and displays his inventive ideas. The intro to the fancy “Klutz” is a lot of fun, too where you just don’t know where the track is going to lead until bass and drums chime in for another greasy beat turning it into a swinger with more of those hilarious changes. The modern jazz image that the leader is painting on “Jazz Vampire” is extremely fiery, blustering and fierce and again, makes a lot of fun to listen to.
The way Jon revisits the Jimmy Rowles classic “The Peacocks” is just astounding. It becomes an extremely soulful and elegant piece with an assertive groove line and thus turning it into one of the most dignified versions I’ve heard of this often-covered song. There is more, intense and hollering playing on the twinkle-toed “It’s For Free” where the free-wheeling backup by Jochen behind the leader’s headstrong and whimsical lines is really stunning. And I really like the choices that Jon made when it comes to the covers: In addition to Mal Waldron, Jimmy Rowles, and The Beatles, he chose Stevie Wonder‘s “My Cherie Amour” which is a nice change of pace here, all beauty and sensitivity with much emphasis on the actual lyric of the masterpiece.
Rounding out this well-balanced 12-song set are two more originals: a midtempo, swaying “Slowly But Surely” walking on intricate and entertaining path, and the exhilarating “Waltz For U”, dedicated to bassist Ugonna and displaying more of that funkiness and class of the leader.