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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Talking Bird

Skin Records SKIN 5006


1. Talking Bird
2. Refuge
3. Dragonfly
4. Fuji-Sighting
5. Harlem Stroll
6. Dreaming On
7. Day of the Snake
8. Kikbak
9. Shiro Sunset
10. Cross the Line
11. Naima


Snake Davis - Saxes, flutes, shakuhachi
Paul Birchall - Keyboards
Bryan Hargreaves - Drums, percussion
Neil Fairclough - Bass guitar
Mark Creswell - Guitar
Dave Bowie - Double bass
Sam Hobbs - Drums (track 4)
Gareth Moulton - Guitar (track 7)
Veronika Novotna - Violins (track 9)


The name of Snake Davis conjures up an image of a tough rock musician. But the music confounds this expectation, as it's very much in the territory of melodic saxophone players like Kenny G and perhaps Dave Sanborn. Chris Davis got the nickname "Snake" because of the way he sways about when he is playing. He studied at Leeds College of Music and has played for all kinds of people, including Lisa Stansfield, the Eurythmics, M People and (oh, dear) Amy Winehouse.

On the sleeve, Davis says "We all really hope this music will make you close your eyes and drift off somewhere away from the crazy, busy lives we lead". So you might put it into the category of easy listening but there is jazz feeling in Snake's playing. He even delivers a respectable interpretation of John Coltrane's composition Naima. Davis claims his influences include King Curtis, Junior Walker and Michael Brecker, but there are few echoes of these saxophonists in Snake's playing on this CD. Certainly there are plenty of those swooping sax sounds that get sharply censured by some jazz critics when they hear Kenny G produce them, but there's also a variety of styles on this album. Dragonfly has an African feel, while Fuji-Sighting sounds oriental with the help of the shakuhachi. On Cross the Line, Snake's flute swirls in a manner reminiscent of Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Shiro Sunset has what sounds like a string quartet backing Snake's plaintive alto sax - probably produced by multi-tracking Veronika Novotna's violin.

This is not an out-and-out jazz album, and I can imagine it being rejected my many jazz purists. Yet it contains some lovely music: restful, even undemanding, but nevertheless very pleasurable.

Tony Augarde





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