He has been a professor as well as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh for over four decades, and he has also recorded some beautiful sounds from various woodwind instruments, such as alto and tenor saxophones, flute, and clarinet. The work of Nathan Davis isn’t as lengthy as most well known jazz musicians, but that doesn’t mean his work shouldn’t be in your listening rotation. His 1976 album entitled If is a great example of many various styles of jazz rolled in to one.
The album If is a true reflection of the time period, hearing a perfect fused sound of funk and soul, while maintaing the underlying jazz backbone. This album provides an easy listen throughout, and while the jazz saxophone can be overpowering at times, Nathan keeps the shrill sounds in check while blending harmoniously to the funk-laced drums, provided by Dave Palamar. Other personnel includes Abraham Laboriel on bass, Willie Amoaku on persuccion, and George Caldwell on Piano and Electric Piano, and of course Nathan Davis who plays Alto, Tenor, and Soprano saxophone, as well as clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute.
Some standout tracks on this particular album are the strong, yet smooth groove of Stick Buddy, and Nathan Davis does an excellent job creating a beautiful aura on the slower compositions such as the title track If and the heartfelt tribute to Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, who had passed the year prior to this album release.
Nathan Davis’ recording career may have been short lived, but his life imprint is huge, and this project is an extremely enjoyable listen.