Album Review: Craig Davis — Tone Paintings
Pianist Michael “Dodo” Marmarosa was a bebop musician whose most celebrated period was the 1940s to ‘60s (he passed away on 2002). In his early years, he played with a number of the highest-profile bands including those led by Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw and Gene Krupa. Later he worked extensively as a sideman, and occasionally as a band leader. A new recording by Pittsburgh-born Craig Davis honors the work of hometown hero Marmarosa.
Working as part of a trio with upright bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, Davis explores Marmarosa’s catalog, delivering energetic and expressive readings of ten classics. The tunes swing gently, with balanced emphasis on melody, subtlety and groove. An original tune, Davis’ own “A Ditty for Dodo” is an homage to Marmarosa’s style; if one didn’t know otherwise, they might mistake it for one of his tunes.
A highlight of the set is the vaguely bossa-nova styled “Opus No. 5,” and the kinetic “Battle of the Balcony Jive” is the most uptempo of the set. The impressionistic and melancholy “Dodo’s Lament” closes the collection. Taken as a whole, Davis’ selections display the breadth of Marmarosa’s compositional and arranging style, and may well spur listeners to rediscover the late pianist’s body of work.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.